Michael McCluskey named new chief executive of Radio Australia (updated).

Posted: 31 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Australian Broadcasting Corporation press release, 18 May 2010: "Director ABC International Murray Green has announced that Dr Michael McCluskey is to be the new Chief Executive of ABC Radio Australia. Mr Green said Dr McCluskey would bring substantial experience in leadership, broadcasting and journalism to the Chief Executive position. In a career spanning over 25 years with the ABC, Mike has worked as a rural reporter, executive producer, radio presenter, regional program manager, international advisor, and local radio manager. His doctorate is in the area of media and development. ... His appointment succeeds Mr Hanh Tran, who is to take up a senior editorial role with the organisation. Mr Green thanked outgoing Chief Executive Mr Hanh Tran for his leadership over the past three years particularly in the areas of bilingualism, journalism and cross language cooperation. He also acknowledged the addition of Burmese as a new language service, leading Radio Australia news staff in the creation of the Asia Pacific News Centre, and the development of 'Pacific Break' a pan-Pacific music competition that has won international acclaim. Dr McCluskey will take up his position on 31 May. ABC Radio Australia is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s radio and online service broadcasting in 8 languages across Asia and the Pacific. It is the partner broadcaster to Australia Network television and media capacity building collaborator with ABC International Projects."
   Update: Radio Australia, Pacific Beat, 31 May 2010, host Rob Sharp interviewing new Radio Australia CEO Mike McCluskey: "Is branding a problem, is is a problem calling us Radio Australia? Do you see in the future if we are going to be delivering online, through television sets, radio through TV as you mentioned and mobile phones? Will it always be Radio Australia do you think or is it something we have to look at in the way of a name change? McCluskey: I think always is probably a term that one should never use. Let me just say that Radio Australia has a very powerful existing brand image in the region, or the regions of Asia and the Pacific and there's nothing wrong with keeping that brand image. We know that what we mean when we say Radio Australia is the delivery of audio and online services and mobile platform services to the audience no matter where they are and we're in partnership with our sister network, Australia Network, and that network concentrates on delivering television content. But it also delivers multi-platform content. And so really what matters is people understand that underneath, this is the ABC, the trusted brand of the ABC that delivers reliable, trusted content reflecting the interest and aspirations of Australia and also reflecting the diverse and wonderful stories that are taking place within the community of the communities of Asia and the Pacific."

South Korea delays plans for propaganda to the North, but radio broadcasts continue.

Posted: 31 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The Korea Times, 31 May 2010: "South Korea has taken a step back from its relentless efforts to pressure North Korea to take responsibility for the maritime tragedy by delaying plans to begin anti-North Korea propaganda. Experts speculated that two factors -- the safety of South Koreans working at the joint Gaeseong Industrial Complex in the North and rising tensions on the peninsula -- probably prompted the government to weigh the timing of the execution of the psychological operations (PSYOP). The Ministry of National Defense Sunday put off plans to drop anti-North Korea leaflets that were originally scheduled to be distributed across the border late last week. ... On Monday, the defense ministry also hinted at delaying the plan to broadcast the 'Voice of Freedom' program over loudspeakers. The project was scheduled to be implemented in early June."
   JoongAng Daily, 31 May 2010: "'Leaflet distribution had been put off due to weather conditions so far, but we have now decided to put it on hold for the time being, considering the political situation,' the ministry official said on condition of anonymity."
   The Hankyoreh, 31 May 2010: "Moreover, it appears government officials are also concerned, amid plans to refer the sinking of the Cheonan to the UN Security Council, that a full-scale restart of psychological warfare could draw critical international opinion."
   The Chosun Ilbo, 31 May 2010: "But radio propaganda broadcasts that resumed on May 24 will continue."
   Korean Central News Agency, 26 May 2010: "[T]he south Korean puppet military gangsters have carved slogans for anti-DPRK psychological warfare on walls of MP posts in the Demilitarized Zone along the Military Demarcation Line and are busy resuming the loudspeaker propaganda as part of the said warfare. The head of the north side delegation to the north-south general-level military talks Wednesday sent the following notice to the south side as regards the reckless moves of the bellicose forces of the puppet military to resume the psychological warfare against the DPRK: ... If the south side persists in scattering leaflets and resumes even the above-said broadcasting, the Korean People's Army will be compelled to promptly take its strong counter-actions including physical actions. If the south side sets up even loudspeakers in the frontline area to resume the broadcasting, in particular, the KPA will take military steps to blow up one by one the moment they appear by firing sighting shots because such action will be tantamount to a blatant abrogation of the north-south military agreement and a military provocation against the DPRK. ... The south Korean puppet war-like forces would be well advised to act with discretion, bearing deep in mind that such measures of the KPA will not end in an empty talk."
   San Angelo (TX) Standard-Times, 30 May 2010, Matthew Walker: "Wallace Brown and Eugene Vaadi ... endured 32 months of torture in a Chinese prison during and after the Korean War. ... Vaadi, who lives in Florida, visited Brown and his wife at their San Angelo home last week. They reunite every few years. In 1953, Vaadi was the pilot, and Brown the co-pilot, of a plane meant to drop off propaganda as part of a newly formed psychological warfare unit. Eight MiG fighters shot down the crew of 14."

BBC News International is iPad app for users outside the UK.

Posted: 31 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Media Spy, 30 May 2010: "The Apple iPad, the device that many are pinning the future of newspapers and magazines on, finally had its international release this week, some two months after its release in the United States, and a month behind Apple’s original schedule. Today, The Spy Report brings you a look at some of the media related iPad applications available now: ... BBC News International (Free). The BBC’s first application is designed for users outside of the UK (within the UK, the BBC’s first application will be for the iPlayer catch-up service). One of the best media applications in the App Store, the BBC has integrated content from its BBC News website with images and video from BBC World Service television, as well as the ability to listen to the BBC World Service radio from within the app. iPhone users will also be able to access a version of the application soon according to the broadcaster."
   Broadband TV News, 31 May 2010: "[N]ews channel France 24 said it iPad application has already been downloaded 8,000 times (including 6,000 downloads in the US) since its release on April 3. ... France 24’s three channels (English, French and Arab) are available as live streams on the iPad. The application also offers a wide range of videos available on demand in the three languages (magazines, debates, special reports)."

Pakistan lifts Facebook ban after conditions met, and more net censorship in the news.

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AP, 31 May 2010: "Pakistan lifted a ban on Facebook on Monday after officials from the social networking site apologized for a page deemed offensive to Muslims and removed its contents, a top information technology official said. ... Bangladesh also decided to block Facebook on Sunday but said it would restore access to the site if the offensive material was removed."
   PC World, 20 May 2010, Jeff Bertolucci: "Here are some notable instances of governments around the world curtailing or cutting off Internet access in their countries."
   San Jose Mercury News, 28 May 2010, John Boudreau: "With more than 400 million Chinese now online — and 100 million more expected to join them by the end of the year — netizens are increasingly bumping against the limits of expression imposed by officials. ... The government is so determined to control public opinion that it hires bloggers — dubbed the '50-cent army' because of what they are paid per post — to promote its views online. It also backs censorship-friendly social networking sites. ... These efforts have swollen the ranks of Chinese involved in a countercampaign dubbed "fanqiang," or scaling the wall. They use overseas proxy websites and VPN, or virtual private network, services to access forbidden material."

Internet radios as the offspring of shortwave.

Posted: 31 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 30 May 2010, Ced Kurtz: "I always was interested in shortwave radio and remember receiving a new shortwave for Christmas in the early 1990s and being able to listen to the dissolution of the Soviet Union live on Radio Moscow. Desiring to get more stations, I rigged a wire antenna in the back yard. Was I a radio nerd? Oh, yeah. But then came Internet radio and swept it all away. Now, using your home WiFi network and one of a plethora of Internet radios on the market, you can listen to whatever you want from wherever you want. ... In the old shortwave days, TechMan would have to twiddle the dial until he finally tuned in a station. Often he would have to listen through static and a wavering signal to discover which station he had tuned in. Granted this was part of the fun, but if you wanted to listen to a specific station, it could be a pain. On an Internet radio, you simply pick 'Internet' on the digital 'dial,' then select 'world,' a country, a city and a station and you are listening to that station over the Internet, crystal clear. And that is true of stations anywhere, including one in Antarctica. For example, I listened to Christmas Eve mass on Vatican Radio."
   Vimeo, 17 May 2010, Jonathan Marks: "This [video] clip is the inside story on Pure, the company that has probably done the most to turn digital radio from an idea into an affordable proposition. They were leaders at the start of DAB in the UK and Denmark, now that has been extended to DAB+ and their interpretation of Internet Radio. I have had several web radios side by side - using different tuning systems, and thelounge.com is a much easier to use interface, especially if you like selecting stations by programme type or on-air quality." See Jonathan's other videos.

Deutsche Welle director notes listener protests about Ethiopian jamming.

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Deutsche Welle, 28 May 2010, Ludger Schadomsky: "Coinciding with Ethiopia's parliamentary election last Sunday, DW's Amharic service in the country was deliberately jammed. It is part of the government's strategy to silence independent media. ... According to [Deutsche Welle director general Erik] Bettermann the continued attacks by the Ethiopian government and the blocking of unpopular Internet sites through the aid of Chinese software and hardware is a confirmation that Germany's broadcaster is on the right track. ... Listeners from all over the world have protested against the jamming during the election weekend. In Ethiopia people have begun calling in to the Deutsche Welle to express their frustration and regret that the international broadcaster could not be heard reporting on the country's election." See previous posts on 30 Mayand 29 May 2010.

South African wins CNN MultiChoice African Journalist award.

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CNN, 30 May 2010: "Sam Rogers, from South Africa, has been awarded the top prize at this year's CNN MultiChoice African Journalist 2010 Awards Ceremony. Sam Rogers, Executive Producer of Factuals -- Crime and Investigation Unit, e.tv, won for her story 'Curse of the Nobody People,' which was chosen from among 2074 entries from 40 nations across the African continent. 'Curse of the Nobody People' features on the discrimination and sometimes shocking fate of albinos in Tanzania."

Broadcasting Board of Governors nominees not yet confirmed.

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The Atlantic, 29 May 2010, James Fallows: "On Thursday afternoon, just before its Memorial Day recess, the Senate had planned to consider about 80 ... nominations as a group. They all had been through financial and security vetting; they had been through committee consideration; they were headed for jobs that in many cases now stood vacant; they were ready to go. Sen. Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, moved for approval by unanimous consent, apparently believing that a deal to clear out the huge backlog had been struck. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, begged to differ. He was still sore about the recess appointment of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board. Therefore he wouldn't agree to the en-bloc vote." -- The BBG nominees were, apparently, among the 80. The Senate Executive Calendar [pdf] still shows a "notice of intent to object to proceeding" by Senator Coburn for the first six nominees cleared by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The two remaining nominees, Michael Meehan and Dana Perino, the most recent to be moved out of committee, are not on that list. The Senate returns from recess on 7 June. See previous post about same subject.

Swiss budget cut ended shortwave broadcasts, another may end successor to shortwave broadcasts.

Posted: 30 May 2010   Print   Send a link
swissinfo.ch, 29 May 2010: "swissinfo.ch must not fall victim to government cost-cutting, say many high-profile Swiss around the world in a petition to save the multimedia internet portal. Among the 1,500 people to have backed the petition so far are Walter Kälin, the United Nations representative for internally displaced persons, and Alfred Defago, Switzerland's former ambassador to the United States. The petition (see link) calls on the government and the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) to continue to contribute 50 per cent each to swissinfo.ch’s funding. ... It is the second time in less than ten years that swissinfo.ch is facing potential financial cuts. Its budget was reduced to SFr26 million from SFr44 million and included job losses and the abolition of shortwave radio broadcasts." -- swisinnfo.ch is the website successor to shortwave broadcaster Swiss Radio International. See galley: Looking back at 70 years of SRI.

BBC World Service tender for distribution services.

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ComputerWeekly.com, 28 May 2010: "The BBC World Service is looking for a partner to work on the transmission of programmes in a contract worth up to £300m. The contract includes providing a content delivery system and will replace the current 10-year contract, which comes to an end in 2012. ... The services - which the BBC says it will discuss with potential bidders - could include the transmission and distribution of services, production facilities, a content delivery system, satellite distribution services, and FM relay stations." -- Apparently this will include what will remain of BBCWS shortwave transmission. See this BBC web page for the contract notice.

Ethiopian Satellite Television is 1) on the air and 2) jammed.

Posted: 30 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Variety, 29 May 2010: "Ethiopia's first independent satellite web launched in May, breaking the monopoly long held by pubcaster Ethiopian Television. Ethiopian Satellite Television began a trial run May 14, with plans to unveil a full slate of original programming in June. ESAT debuted with a series of reports on last week's elections -- final results are due June 21 -- as well as a number of entertainment programs produced in the country's Amharic language. ... Fasil Yenealem, ESAT's managing editor ... says ESAT will give opposition groups a voice in the country's political dialogue. But he adds that the channel will present an independent, balanced view in its reporting. ... So far, he says, the government has given ESAT the cold shoulder. Requests for an interview with the communications minister for a recent news segment were rebuffed."
   ESAT press release, 30 May 2010: "For the past three days and intermittently before that, Ethiopian Satellite Service (ESAT) broadcasts in Ethiopia have been interrupted due to undetermined electronic interference. Following preliminary investigations, we have confirm the following facts: Our service providers have performed extensive technical tests and determined that ESAT transmissions have been targeted for multiple interference from unknown sources. Once the interference was detected, our service providers made appropriate adjustments to overcome the interfering signal. That effort worked temporarily and ESAT was back on the air. In the last 72 hours, the interfering signal was boosted jamming ESAT signals once again. Our service providers have performed additional tests and determined that the multiple interference is targeted only at ESAT broadcasts and none of their other broadcasts." ESAT is on Arabsat Badr 6.

Concerns about possible internet controls in Venezuela.

Posted: 30 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle, 25 May 2010, Reese Erlich: "[O]pposition media owners like those at Radio Caracas, one of the country's most outspoken opposition radio and Internet networks ... see government repression coming from many angles. Managers worry about government proposals to relocate the internet hubs of media organizations from the US to Venezuela. Hubs control the servers, which carry content to readers. Parliament is currently debating whether to relocate all the country's hubs inside Venezuela. 'If you put, like they do in Iran or Cuba, all the hubs inside the territory of Venezuela, the government will have control of the content,' says Jaime Nestares, general manager of Radio Caracas. But [Eva Golinger, editor of the government-owned newspaper El Correo de Orinoco International] says that's an invented argument. Today the hubs reside in the US, which she argues, could enable the United States to interfere with Venezuelan Internet traffic if it wants to. She says relocating the hubs is part of asserting "technological and communications sovereignty."
   El Universal, 28 May 2010: "In wrapping up the situation of the media after private TV channel RCTV was taken off the air three years ago, the director of the Communications Research Institute (Ininco), Central University of Venezuela (UCV), Professor Gustavo Hernández Díaz, said that multiple components help to conclude that democracy in Venezuela is falling into a spiral of silence."
   Human Rights Foundation, 27 May 2010: "'The silencing of RCTV by the Venezuelan government three years ago was a devastating turning point for freedom and democracy in Venezuela. A comparable situation would be the US government deciding to shut down major television networks such as ABC, CBS, or NBC,' said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF."

Memories of listening to China Radio International in Kazakh.

Posted: 30 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Transitions Online, 27 May 2010, Kenjali Tinibai: "In the late 1980s [in Kazakhstan] I often listened to Chinese state radio. At the time I was unable to understand the English broadcasts of the BBC and Voice of America, and the Russian-language broadcasts on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty were constantly jammed by the Soviet regime. Chinese radio was also prohibited, though less obviously, in the Soviet Union. China Radio International broadcast in Russian as well as Kazakh. I often listened in the early hours of the morning. Its programs were clearly anti-Soviet in orientation, though that anti-Sovietism was of a special kind and differed from Western broadcasters in the nature of its propaganda and the political information provided. By listening to those programs I began to realize that the end of Russia’s rule in Kazakhstan was inevitable."

Balkan Al Jazeera coming soon? And other Al Jazeera in the news.

Posted: 30 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The Sofia Echo, 26 May 2010: "Qatar-based international news broadcaster Al-Jazeera will have a new headquarters in Sarajevo, from where it said it will cover the whole Balkans Peninsula for regional-based news, Bulgarian media reported on May 26 2010. Al-Jazeera representatives will arrive in the Bosnian capital city the week beginning May 31 when they will finalise the takeover of the local television channel Studio 99 and set up their own television network in its place. Studio 99 has been rumoured to be facing closure since the turn of the year. Eventually the takeover became all but imminent, reports said. ... For the moment, however, the takeover is not confirmed by the official website of Al-Jazeera itself. Spokespersons for the television network channel have also declined to comment, when approached by Radio Free Europe."
   Novinite.com, 26 May 2010: "International news broadcaster Al-Jazeera will cover the whole Balkans from its regional center in Sarajevo, which is likely to go on air in November, Bosnian media reports. The new program will be called Balkan Al-Jazeera."
   The Economist, 27 May 2010: "The influence and reach of Al Jazeera continue to astound. It is certainly the most powerful news-and-current-affairs channel in the Arab world, well ahead of Al Arabiya, its Saudi-owned, more pro-Western rival. ... The English one’s choice of topics reflects the third-world interests of its viewers, concentrating more than its Western counterparts do on global poverty and the anger often felt towards America and the West. But it offers a wide range of opinion and covers Western politics well too. ... The Arabic service is a lot more controversial. Pro-Western Arab governments, particularly those of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which denies Al Jazeera a bureau, repeatedly accuse it of bias. ... Al Jazeera’s anti-Western populism was strongly echoed at its recent forum on 'the Arab and Muslim world: alternative visions'. Many speakers, denoting piety or loyalty to political Islam, prefaced their remarks with incantations of reverence for the Prophet Muhammad. On Palestine, not a single one of 200-odd invited participants spoke up for a two-state solution, apart from a clutch of doveish Americans; Hamas’s official one-state preference for the Jewish state’s abolition easily prevailed."
   VOA News, 27 May 2010, Meredith Buel: Rob Malley, a U.S. negotiator at Camp David in 2000, "says the current atmosphere in the Middle East severely hurts efforts to reinvigorate the peace process. 'I think we have to change the regional climate,' said Rob Malley. 'The notion that the U.S. is going to do something at a time when Syria, Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, plus the echo chamber of Al-Jazeera, are going to be unanimously against what the U.S. is doing and when Egypt, Jordan and others are sort of losing steam seems to me to be a complete illusion, a myth.'"
   Los Angeles Times, 25 May 2010: "Al Jazeera's English-language network recently produced an in-depth video report on the culture of violence of extrajudicial police killings in Jamaica." Video at New York Times, The Lede, 25 May 2010.
   The Tyee (Vancouver), 26 May 2010, Steve Anderson and Anita Krajnc: In Canada, "unless you're a Videotron customer, you'll need to go out of your way to specifically order and pay extra for AJE. Rogers is only offering AJE à la carte in a test phase for $2.79/month (claiming it will consider packages once there is high customer demand); AJE is also not included in any of Rogers' themed packages nor do they offer a free preview of the channel. AJE is available at Bell TV à la carte for $3/month, is also part of an international news package (though Bell is not advertising this inclusion). For those on the West coast, Shaw is not carrying it as of now, and Telus and AJE are still in negotiations. Distributors (excluding Videotron) should take a number of actions to allow Canadians access to improved quality and diversity of news coverage by: 1) Offering customers a free preview of Al Jazeera English; 2) Offering Al Jazeera not only via à la carte or stand alone, but as part of themed packages such as news and learning, multicultural, and other general and special packages."

RFE/RL popular in Belarusian prison.

Posted: 29 May 2010   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, 26 May 2010: "An opposition Belarusian activist recently released from prison says RFE/RL's programs in the Belarusian language are available on short wave in jails and are very popular among prison inmates, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports. Artsyom Dubski was released May 25 from a correctional institution in the city of Mahileu. Dubski told RFE/RL that prisoners listen to Radio Svaboda and transcribe what they hear and tell others."

Federal Trade Commission floats idea of domestically disseminating VOA and RFE/RL.

Posted: 29 May 2010   Print   Send a link
San Francisco Chronicle, 29 May 2010, Jeff Jarvis: "The Federal Trade Commission has been nosing around how to save journalism and in its just-posted 'staff discussion draft' on 'potential policy recommendations to support the reinvention of journalism.' ... Among the ideas the FTC presents: ... *Government subsidies. After saluting the history of government subsidies for the press — namely, postal discounts, legal notice publication, assorted tax breaks, and funds for public broadcasting — the agency looks at other ideas: ... using Voice of America and Radio Free Europe content (aka propaganda) in the U.S... ."
   Federal Trade Commission, "Potential Policy Recommedations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism" [pdf]: Allow content developed for international broadcasting to be used domestically. Almost $700 million of taxpayers’ money is spent on content generated for use by Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty for international dissemination. This news would be valuable to U.S. citizens as well. A 60-year old law, however, prohibits the rebroadcast of this government-funded international news to U.S. consumers and taxpayers." Cites paper noted in previous post.
   VOA and RFE/RL are available now to US citizens who visit voanews.com and rferl.org. Those visitors can decide for themselves if the content is "propaganda." This availability will continue unless the broadcasters are required to observe the domestic dissemination provision of the Smith Mundt Act by forbidding access to computers with US IP addresses.

Art Linkletter and his fundraising efforts for Radio Free Europe.

Posted: 29 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Historytimes.com, 27 May 2010, Richard Cummings: "On Wednesday, May 26, 2010, American television and radio icon Art Linkletter died in Los Angeles at age 97. ... A 12-hour TV marathon, with viewers calling in contributions on behalf of the [Radio Free Europe fundraising entity] Crusade for Freedom, sponsored by the television network CBS and pooled with the other networks, took place on Sunday September 23, 1951. ... From Hollywood, Art Linkletter hosted special half-hour segments that were relayed to the east coast to wind up the huge outdoor rally in Los Angeles. ... For the 1954 Crusade campaign, Art Linkletter appeared in a short promotion film that was aired on television. ... In 1956, Linkletter’s son Jack had a summer intern job at Radio Free Europe in Munich. Art Linkletter visited his son at the Radio Free Headquarters building and posed for a publicity photograph, which showed him at microphone with the RFE and Crusade for Freedom logos."
   See also Richard's "The Flight for Freedom," Historytimes.com, 19 May 2010, "From Mother's Day to the Crusade for Freedom," Historytimes.com, 4 May 2010, and "The Winds of Freedom and Crusade for Freedom," Historytimes.com, 28 April 2010 (pertinent because of the present-day campaign of balloons directed to North Korea).

"Don't Silence Voice of America," and, in general, radio in USIB, she writes (updated).

Posted: 29 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Heritage Foundation, 26 May 2010, Helle Dale: "With the proliferation and fragmentation of traditional news sources, what do most people identify as the medium they trust most for information? According to a new poll by Ofcom, the independent regulating authority of the British communications industries, the answer is radio. ... Over the past decade, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), whose nine members are appointed by the President and which oversees U.S. international broadcasting, has made the decision to close down nine transmitter sites around the world, leaving just 13 active. In previous decades another 14 sites were closed down, including in 1997 the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty site in Gloria, Portugal, the largest shortwave transmitting facility in the West. ... In order to make full and appropriate use of the considerable investment made by the U.S. over the years to build up its international broadcasting capability, Congress should: ... ▪Hold hearings on the appropriate role of radio in U.S. international broadcasting strategy, considering the possibility of recalibrating the relative weight given to television and radio. The Obama Administration should: ▪Revisit its major public diplomacy strategy documents, promulgated this spring by the National Security Council and the State Department, neither of which has assigned a major role to U.S. international broadcasting. America has important, but not unlimited, assets whose potential should be maximized. Although diplomats and pundits have crowned Web 2.0 as the new communications king, radio remains the globe’s most trusted source for information."
   International broadcasting has a news function distinct from that of public diplomacy. Good thing, then, that the "public diplomacy strategy documents" did not assign "a major role" to USIB. The role of USIB should be discussed in other "documents."
   Ms. Dale begins her essay by citing the high levels of trust for radio in the UK, then extends that finding to the entire world. Globally, radio is not doing very well. For news and for entertainment, television dominates in East Asia, urban South Asia, the Middle East, Russia and the former Soviet Union, and the Americas. In Africa, radio is still important, but direct-to-home satellite television is growing quickly on that continent.
   Yes, there should be hearings on the appropriate role of radio in USIB. Shortwave arguably remains the medium most resistant to interdiction, but do enough people still have shortwave radios? If they do, are they willing to use them? Someone from BBC World Service should be invited to the hearing to explain why they plan to eliminate most shortwave within five years. (See previous post.)

   Update: Broadcasting Board of Governors, 28 May 2010, statement by spokesperson Letitia King: "Media usage worldwide has grown increasingly complex, and Dale’s wishes for a shortwave solution are not supported by the facts." Follow the link for King's complete statement.

Old microphone returns to the Voice of America.

Posted: 29 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Voice of America press release, 28 May 2010: "A vintage microphone used by the Voice of America during Cold War era broadcasts is back at the agency's D.C. headquarters, thanks to a sharp eyed curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, which borrowed the artifact three decades earlier. After an extended time on display, the VOA microphone sat for years in a storage cabinet at the museum together with other microphones, including one used by Amelia Earhart during a press conference and another of the type used by Orson Welles during his legendary War of the Worlds broadcast. Adorned with the iconic Voice of America nameplate, the Altec 639, first manufactured in the 1940s, was widely used by VOA broadcasters, including Willis Conover, legendary host of Music USA Jazz Hour. ... Voice of America Director Danforth W. Austin said, 'We are indebted to the Smithsonian for giving us back a piece of our history.' ... Soon the microphone will be part of a public display at the VOA headquarters, a reminder of the broadcasting service's founding era, a time before television and the internet, when radio was the sole source of news, music, and information for millions of people around the world."
   All About Jazz, 28 May 2010: Old tape recordings of Newport Jazz Festivals are being digitally converted. "They're also listening for any song titles that might be spoken by the bandleader on stage or personnel that may or may not be introduced by the emcees (usually Willis Conover from Voice of America in the early days... ."

Media and propaganda in the Ethiopian election.

Posted: 29 May 2010   Print   Send a link
European Union, 25 May 2010, report on the Ethiopian election: "Generally, the media ensured a neutral coverage of the main political campaign events. The state-owned media gave the ruling party more than 50% of its total coverage on news programmes. A generous amount of free airtime was distributed proportionately to the different parties. Overall, the media were cautious in their reporting. The jamming of Voice of America Amharic Service during the last weeks of the campaign contributed to reduce the possibility for voters to receive information from a wider range of sources." -- It's interesting that this EU report did not also mention the jamming of Deutsche Welle, international radio station of EU member Germany.
   International Press Institute, 28 May 2010, Mesfin Negash: "Most people were suffocated by government propaganda, particularly in rural areas. In the run-up to this election, the government did everything to silence or bar all influential independent sources of information. It forced the closure of Addis Neger and terrorised other weeklies; furthermore, the ruling party jammed Voice of America and German broadcaster Deutsche Welle - the only sources of independent information for most rural Ethiopians. The ruling party controlled and used all ‘public’ radio stations and the only TV station solely for party purposes. On the other hand, a huge campaign of persuasion coupled with material benefits including promotions, scholarships and jobs was launched, supported by continuous propaganda."

Another case of dyspeptic revisionism about the internet and social networking.

Posted: 29 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Nextgov, 25 May 2010, Aliya Sternstein: "For years, technologists have predicted the Internet would provide the masses with free speech that would challenge totalitarian regimes. But so far the Web has been a weak tool in the fight against censorship, technology experts said on Monday. One of the most commonly cited examples of how citizens have used the Internet to challenge a government occurred after the Iranian presidential elections in June 2009. Despite news accounts of protests being organized through the text-messaging service Twitter, Evgeny Morozov, a fellow at Georgetown University's Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, said he has grown skeptical of the Web's power to foster democracy. ... The Internet is not the first free speech facilitator to fall short of expectations. 'I've had the sense that I've been here before,' said Price Floyd, principal deputy assistant secretary of public affairs at Defense. Since the Cold War, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the U.S.-funded broadcaster, has used shortwave frequencies to report news to countries that ban free press. But throughout history, oppressive regimes have countered with espionage and misinformation campaigns to discredit the broadcasts, according to Radio Free Europe." -- That did not keep those broadcasts from having large audiences. If Western international broadcasting had a role in overcoming European communism, it took 45 years to do so. But without those broadcasts, people in the communist nations would have much less knowledge about democracy and capitalism in the West, and about what was happening in their own countries.
   Foreign Policy, May/June 2010, Evgeny Morozov: "Neither the Iranian nor the Burmese regime has crumbled under the pressure of pixelated photos of human rights abuses circulated on social networking sites. Indeed, the Iranian authorities have been as eager to take advantage of the Internet as their green-clad opponents. After last year's protests in Tehran, Iranian authorities launched a website that publishes photos from the protests, urging the public to identify the unruly protesters by name. Relying on photos and videos uploaded to Flickr and YouTube by protesters and their Western sympathizers, the secret police now have a large pool of incriminating evidence. Neither Twitter nor Facebook provides the security required for a successful revolution, and they might even serve as an early warning system for authoritarian rulers."
   The Times (London), 27 May 2010, Roger Boyes: "In the autumn of 1981 I returned to Poland and from then on provided regular employment to at least seven secret police officers and their informers. The Times had made me a good offer, I left the Financial Times and started to make contacts within the Solidarity free-trade union movement. ... It became a routine: write an article, copy it out three times, slip them into envelopes and then head out to the Warszawa-Gdanska railway station to persuade passengers on their way to West Berlin and points farther west to take my pieces and post them. ... Our articles, once published abroad, would be taken up by the BBC Polish service and Radio Free Europe and broadcast back into Poland. We had become a link in the information war against General Jaruzelski, asking the questions the Polish press could not."

BBC World News Nieman Fellow will look at "community cohesion," while fellow Fellow will study "social harmony."

Posted: 29 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard press release (undated, but presumably recently): "The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard has selected 25 journalists from the United States and abroad to join the 73rd class of Nieman Fellows" including: "Philippa Thomas (United Kingdom), anchor and correspondent, BBC World News television, will look at the role of journalism in building community cohesion with a particular emphasis on how social media can be used to empower citizen journalists in developing democracies." -- Is it really the job of journalism to build "community cohesion"? Isn't it the function of democracy to ensure that there is not too much cohesion? Does a person have to go to Harvard to figure out how social media can empower citizen journalists? Wouldn't an education in good journalistic technique do a better job of empowering citizen journalists than a primer on how to log on to Twitter? By asking these questions, do I have a snowball's chance of ever being a Nieman Fellow?
   Ibid: Another Nieman Fellow, "Hui Siu Fun (China), principal producer, Television Broadcasts Limited in Hong Kong, will study how press freedom in mainland China and Hong Kong is affected by official propaganda promoting social harmony." -- Social harmony, meet community cohesion.
   Meanwhile, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard might want to send someone from its press office out to the Acme School of Welding, Refrigerator Maintenance, and Journalism (it's just past the grain elevator) to learn about the when in the who, what, where, when, and why.

President Ma "exclusive" interview on BBC WS will follow his interview on Al Jazeera English.

Posted: 29 May 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service press release, 27 May 2010: "The BBC Chinese website, bbcchinese.com will be hosting an exclusive interview session with President Ma of Taiwan on Wednesday 2 June, 2010 from the Presidential Palace in Taipei. For the first time since his inauguration in May 2008, President Ma will be taking questions raised by Chinese audiences around the world." -- It will be interesting to know how many mainland Chinese could get past China's shortwave jamming and internet blocking and satellite restrictions to hear the interview.
   Radio Taiwan International, 27 May 2010: "President Ma Ying-jeou and the foreign ministry on Thursday both condemned the disruption of peace in the region. That's amid growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. In an interview with Al Jazeera English on Thursday, Ma said that he supports efforts by the United States, Japan and South Korea in easing tensions as well as restoring stability to the region via the United Nations." -- So the BBC interview is exclusive in that it is in Mandarin and that listeners can send in questions.

BBC productions in India: bonded labor, pampered celebs.

Posted: 29 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Outlookindia.com, 26 May 2010: "The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) will broadcast a programme in Hindi on bonded labour based on experience of people who have borne the brunt of it and views of NGOs and crusaders against the age-old social evil. The 30-minute weekly half an-hour radio programme titled, 'Majboor Kisko Bola! (Who are your calling helpless!)', will be a dramatization based on the experiences of those bonded labourers, past and present, mostly in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and aimed at highlighting their woes, Mohanlal Sharma, the producer of the programme, told reporters here. ... The programme has been produced by the World Service Trust of the BBC, he said."
   Broadcast, 27 May 2010: "BBC Worldwide Productions in India is making a new reality series based on its Celebrity Sleepover format for Hindi general entertainment channel Imagine TV. Desi Girl (Celebrity Village Sleepover) follows eight pampered celebs as they take on the role of a villager. Each will be immersed in this very different lifestyle – milking cows, ploughing fields in 100 degree heat and building with their bare hands, completing multiple challenges along the way."

BBC-commissioned "Come Dine With Me" will be available in both both British and American flavors.

Posted: 28 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Digital Spy, 26 May 2010: "BBC Worldwide has commissioned a US remake of Come Dine With Me. The series, which will be produced by ITV Studios America, follows a group of people as they host dinner parties and mark each other's efforts. The new version of the show, featuring contestants from New York, will air on BBC America in 2011.
David Weiland from BBC Worldwide said: 'The UK version of Come Dine With Me is already a strong performer on BBC Lifestyle across all territories and we are really excited about adding the US version to the mix.'"
   The Hollywood Reporter, 26 May 2010: "Production on the 10-episode, 60-minute series begins this summer, with the show set to debut on BBC America in early 2011, on BBC Lifestyle in Asia, Africa, Poland, Scandinavia, Middle East and on BBC Entertainment in Latin America."
   Deadline Hollywood, 26 May 2010: "Additionally, BBC America has acquired the original U.K. version of Come Dine from ITV Studios, which will begin airing on July 7. BBC America has been producing a U.S.-based newscast for the past few years but its entertainment lineup consists mainly of reruns of British and U.S. series, including Dr. Who, Peep Show and Star Trek: The Next Generation."
   Deadline London, 26 May 2010: "British indie TV producers say that the BBC should pull out of the market for new US television shows. Buying new US shows such as the first season of Heroes drives up prices, they say. Indie producers’ association Pact has criticised Auntie for outbidding Channel 4 for US series Harper’s Island. Airing seasons of Mad Men or The Wire after they’ve already finished in the States would be okay though."

Report: Head of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting admits to satellite jamming.

Posted: 28 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Kodoom, 28 May 2010: "In a surprise confession, Ezatollah Zarghami, Head of state-run Iranian Broadcast Company, during a speech on Thursday to a group of war veterans, admitted that Iranian government indeed sends illegal satellite jamming signals against foreign broadcast satellites. Zarghami lamented: 'Our own Alalam (Arabic broadcast by Iran) was removed from Nile Sat and Arab Sat in retaliation of our (own government's) jamming signals targeting these satellites.'"
     Parlemannews.com, 27 May 2010, Google translated: "We send noise, the noise they send us on satellite channels and then they are cut as in the Arab network Al-Alam, which is achieved and is contrary to the contract has been deleted."

RFE/RL president visits Pakistan, including Radio Mashaal Islamabad bureau.

Posted: 28 May 2010   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL press release, 28 May 2010: "In the midst of the controversy regarding the decision to ban YouTube and Facebook, RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin visited Pakistan for five days to discuss media freedom. Gedmin's trip focused on Radio Mashaal ('torch' in Pashto) --- RFE/RL's new Pashto-language station in the tribal areas along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Gedmin visited the station's Islamabad bureau and discussed Mashaal's mission with religious leaders, members of parliament, military officials, and civil society activists. ... Radio Mashaal's correspondents cover domestic and international news with in-depth reports on terrorism, politics, women's issues, and health care, with an emphasis on preventive medicine. The station features regular call-in programs, roundtable discussions and interviews with experts and leaders."
   PC World, 27 May 2010: "Pakistan relaxed its block on YouTube on Wednesday evening, but a similar ban on Facebook remains in place. The country's telecommunications regulator, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), last week ordered operators to block YouTube, citing sacrilegious content on it. While the authority is removing its blanket ban on YouTube, objectionable links on the site will remain blocked PTA spokesman Khurram A. Mehran said in an email on Thursday."
   Huffington Post, 25 May 2010, Jordan Dey: "Pakistan has a vibrant and free media, with deep reach into all parts of the country. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) should encourage its Pakistani employees who are implementing the health, education, and governance projects to explain the programs - good and bad - to their countrymen and women on television talk shows. More than three-quarters of Pakistanis (78 percent) cite television as their main source of information, and 80 percent find it credible."

For six euros, French viewers can watch a German sing-along channel, etc.

Posted: 28 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 26 May 2010, Robert Briel: "French IPTV provide[r] Free has launched a German language bouquet comprising of six thematic channels. Retailing at €5.99, viewers receive a choice of specialist German channels. Gute Laune TV offers German sing-along and folk music; Your Family Entertainement with wholesome kids and family friendly programming; Erde und Mensch, a channel dedicated to the environment; Dr Dish TV, the specialist high tech channel; Deutsches Wetter Fernsehen, a German weather channels and the mind, body and spirit channel Body in Balance. All Freebox subscribers also have access, at no additional cost, to the international German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW-TV)."

New version of BBC iPlayer. International version "high on the agenda."

Posted: 28 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 26 May 2010, Mark Sweney: "The BBC has unveiled the latest version of the iPlayer video-on-demand service, a customisable upgrade that includes deals with Facebook and Twitter allowing users to share content via the social media networks. ... [Erik Huggers, the director of future, media and technology at the BBC] also said that a long-delayed international version of the iPlayer, which would be operated by the corporation's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, was still in the works. 'It is still very high on the agenda. We are working closely with BBC Worldwide on it. It is absolutely something we are looking into,' he added."
   Pocket-lint, 26 May 2010, Dan Sung: "'An international version of iPlayer is still very high on the agenda. We're working with BBC Worldwide on it because that's the service on which it would be deployed, but I can't tell you any more about that at the moment'. How that would be funded still remains to be seen, but it does look like we'll be hearing something on the matter soon. If it were to be available as an app overseas as well, then there really would be smiles all the way from the States to Samoa."
   I can open the beta version of iPlayer from here in the USA. The television offerings result in a "not available in your area" message, but the live and on-demand BBC domestic radio works, for now. I assume the international version of iPlayer will allow us non-UK types to watch some BBC television, probably with advertisements.

Chinese-Australian partnership creates Push Radio: internet-free podcasts.

Posted: 28 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Digital Media, 26 May 2010, Willem Reyners Tay: "Commercial Radio Australia and Chinese based Beijing Jolon Digital Media Broadcasting have announced they will team up to create an application that allows podcasts to be sent over the DAB+ broadcast band. Named 'Push Radio', the technology, developed by Jolon, will send an audio file directly to a DAB+ digital radio receiver without an internet connection, similar to the way additional text and images are already sent with DAB+ broadcasts. ... According to CRA head Joan Warner, by enhancing the offering of Digital Radio devices with push radio, CRA is hoping to expand the possible audience, which is growing increasingly accustomed to time shifted radio listening." So you can listen to one proggram then listen to the program you downloaded while you were listening to the first program. Maybe while driving your car. See also Commercial Radio Australia press release, 25 May 2010.

International expansion for US satellite radio provider XM Sirius?

Posted: 28 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The Street, 25 May 2010, Andrea Tse: "Matthew Harrigan of Wunderlich Securities ... thinks that Sirius XM 'would have the capital latitude' within two to three years to undertake an international launch. Still, Harrigan adds, 'I'd say there's a fair possibility they'd stay in the U.S' due to the political risks Sirius XM could face in the international markets. Furthermore, no international market would be as large-scale as the U.S. in terms of auto distribution channels for satellite radio services like Sirius XM, Harrigan notes. Craig Hodges of the Hodges Fund, which owns 10 million Sirius XM shares -- a top-20 position for Hodges -- said he'd be disappointed if Sirius XM wasn't in the position to expand overseas two years from now. 'The economies of scale are tremendous on that business if they can do it right.'" Also mentions Worldspace.

Can't even get funding for *former* VOA shortwave facilities.

Posted: 28 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Cincinnati Enquirer, 26 May 2010: "An enhancement plan for one of [Butler County'] most popular parks, Voice of America Park in West Chester Township, has also fallen off the grid for now. The plan, which was approved almost two years ago before money got so tight, calls for an outdoor amphitheater, additional athletic fields, and improvements to Wiggly Field dog park." -- At the former VOA Bethany, Ohio, shortwave transmitting station.

Senator Coburn's questions for Broadcasting Board of Governors nominees.

Posted: 28 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Huffpost Hill, 25 May 2010: "Tom Coburn, not a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, is claiming his chance to quiz eight nominees to the Broadcast[ing] Board of Governors that have cleared the panel before releasing a hold on them. They're people you've heard of: Dana Perino, Susan McCue, Michael Meehan (the guy who shoved a blogger on behalf of Martha Coakley), Walter Isaacson, Victor Ashe, Michael Lynton, Dennis Mulhaupt and Enders Wimbush. Coburn even has a questionnaire he's having them fill out, a pretty unprecedented hoop for such nominees to jump through. But hey, in this job market, is that so much to ask? The questionnaire [pdf], which Coburn's office provided to HuffPost Hill. Though he told The Cable recently that the BBG is 'the most worthless organization in the federal government,' his spokesman said some clarification might be in order. '[H]e doesn't necessarily believe BBG is the worst entity -- that might be Congress,' said John Hart." Word was that all eight nominees would be confirmed this week. See previous post about same subject.

TV Brasil Internacional begins broadcasts to Africa and to lusophones everywhere.

Posted: 28 May 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 25 May 2010: "Brazil has launched an international television station that will broadcast to African nations. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the aim of the Portuguese-language channel was to represent Brazil to to the world. The channel shows Brazil's growing interest in Africa, correspondents say. It will also soon also be available in Latin America, Canada, Europe and the US, according to officials. ... 'I don't want a TV channel to speak well of Lula,' he said. 'I want a channel that speaks well of the country, that can show Brazil as it really is.' TV Brasil Internacional, based in Brasilia, will be re-broadcast via Mozambique's capital, Maputo, to 49 African nations. ... The programming will come from domestic TV Brasil, with the emphasis on news and culture. The network will also aim to reach the estimated three million Brazilians who live abroad, officials said."
   MercoPress, 24 May 2010: "Brazil already has an international television channel but it is private and belongs to the powerful media group O’Globo."

One of the "coordinating themes" will involve the Iranians tuning to other stations.

Posted: 28 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Commentary, April 2010, Michael Rubin: "Fluent Persian speakers serving in the U.S. government should address the Iranian people and the regime daily to provide a counter-narrative to that advanced by Iran’s state-controlled media. Here, it is ironic that John Limbert, a fluent Persian speaker whom Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed as her lead Iran man, served as an adviser to a group that threatened to sue Voice of America and Radio Free Europe for airing regime opponents on their Persian services. Too often, Voice of America producers seek to prove their independence by broadcasting voices hostile to the United States (hence the reputation of the service under both Clinton and Bush as 'Radio Khatami'). It is essential that U.S.-supported Persian-language radio broadcast the truth, but it must also remain on message. If Congress provided significant financing for Persian-language media and if the Broadcasting Board of Governors came to understand that coordinating themes revolving around regime change is a vital national interest, such media could play a key role in enabling protest. If Iranian security services shut down cell-phone networks and Internet-service providers, over-the-air news reports, which cannot be jammed so easily, would become integral methods of helping to coordinate protests."
   Brilliant. Let's kerjiggle USIB newscasts to "enable protest." That will give Iranian opposition a real made-in-America feel to it.
   "Truth" that is also "on message" is public diplomacy. Public diplomacy is a necessary and honorable profession, but it's not news. News is what Iranians are seeking when they make the effort to get information from abroad.
   It will be exactly the role of the new members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, whose nominations have just moved forward under mysterious circumstances (see previous post), to protect the independence and integrity of that news. That means the BBG must have the courage resist any schemes that involve "coordinating themes." News that is "coordinated" will have an audience only on Capitol Hill and among the assorted think tanks of Washington.

   Politics Daily, 28 May 2010, Elizabeth Weingarten: "[E]ven if members of the Green movement are able to circumvent government media censorship or pick up satellite television signals, the international community shouldn't expect huge demonstrations on June 12 in Iran. 'If the Green movement wants to take action, they have to surprise the government," [Mehdi Khaliji, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy] said. 'If they plan for something, they give the Iranian regime the opportunity to plan for a crackdown."

Reports: Mauritius-based Al Qarra will join crowded field of Arabic news channels.

Posted: 27 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Al-Masry Al-Youm, 23 May 2010: "The first Arabic-language TV channel in Africa will be launched in June. The new channel, named Al-Qarra (The Continent) will focus on news programing. Naguib Qoweia, head of the new channel, said Al-Qarra will be the first Arabic-language African channel to cover political, economic and cultural life in Africa. The channel will be broadcast via Arabsat Badr 6 satellite from the island nation Mauritius."
   ScreenAfrica.com, 12 May 2010: "It will broadcast African news as well as keep Arab-speakers in Africa updated on what is happening in the Middle East and the Gulf. Al Qarra will have a team of journalists and correspondents in various capitals, and the Maghreb, the Sub-Saharan region and East Africa will be the targeted as a market for the channel."

Religious broadcaster Feba weighs advantages of FM versus shortwave in Malawi.

Posted: 27 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Feba ministry blog, 21 May 2010: "A decision was made to locate [Protestant evangelical Feba's] Yawo permanent recording facilities (short wave and FM programming) from Blantyre to the area 200 km north into Feba’s FM Malawi studio sometime this summer. This is a strategic move to encourage more interaction with the listeners... . Responses to our FM programmes on the [fellow Preotestant evangelical Trans World Radio] network programming in Malawi are already greater than the response to the ones on short wave. However this listener reminds us why we are still broadcasting on both: '... Since in our area there are no FM frequencies available. The only frequency we have is short wave. We urge you to keep up your very good work you have started.'"

China Radio International on FM in Bangladesh.

Posted: 27 May 2010   Print   Send a link
RadioActivity, 26 May 2010, Alokesh Gupta, citing Bangladesh Betar: "Bangladesh Betar and China Radio International (CRI) signed a three yearagreement on May 17, 2010 under which Bangladesh Betar will re-broadcast CRI Bengali program everyday at 1830 - 1930 BST (1230-1330 UTC) on 103.2 MHz FM in Dhaka and105.4 MHz FM in Chittagong simultaneously. English program of CRI will alsobe re-broadcast everyday at 1730 - 1830 BST (1130-1230 UTC from Dhaka station on 103.2 MHz FM. For the re-broadcast service, Bangladesh Betar will earn about US$ 50,000.00 annually."

Propaganda between the Koreas.

Posted: 27 May 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 26 May 2010: "BBC News looks at some of the methods both countries have used in the past to get their message across the border."    JoongAng Daily, 28 May 2010, Kang Ki-heon: "Fighters for Free North Korea, a Seoul-based anti-North civic group, has sent more than 30 million propaganda leaflets to North Korea over the past seven years. And with the South Korean government’s pledge to resume psychological operations against Pyongyang in the wake of the Cheonan attack, the group will have its hands full. 'Only a while ago, we had officials from the Unification Ministry telling us to refrain from sending leaflets,' said Park Sang-hak, head of the civic group. 'But I guess the government stance has changed since.' The JoongAng Ilbo interviewed Park, 42, on Wednesday, the same day he was visited by two Defense Ministry officials handling psychological operations. Park - an old hand at these interrogations, having been questioned by police a dozen times during previous administrations whose policy was to engage North Korea - was grilled about who wrote the messages on the leaflets, and how the group was printing them. ... The messages are flown to the North in hydrogen-filled advertising balloons, each 12 meters (39 feet) long and 2 meters wide. Park said each balloon can contain up to three bundles of leaflets, and each bundle contains 30,000 leaflets."
   National Post (Toronto), 27 May 2010, Matt Gurney: "It doesn’t help when North Korea boasts of its intent to start a war deliberately. South Korea has erected loudspeakers along its border with the North and is blasting propaganda into enemy territory. Such is obviously an irritant to the North, but not an act of aggression … like their threat to open fire on the loudspeakers would be, if carried out. If the North fired into the South, and killed the South Korean troops manning the loudspeakers, it’s likely that with tensions already running so high, the South Koreans would respond. Imagine how history would record that. A massive battle, potentially a regional war, all because an unstable, dying regime was so worried about its own troops defecting that it would rather start a war it couldn’t win than let the taunting, cajoling voices of their enemies drift across the border. It’s insane … but given what we know about the North Koreans, quite possibly just insane enough to happen.
   The Korea Times, 27 May 2010, Michael Breen: "The [North Korean] message - or ideology, if you prefer - that ensures all hearts in uniform beat as one in this regard is that the future of the Korean 'nation' in a mythical sense depends on their strength and vigilance. But this message is a delusion. It is a lie. And it may be exposed by the right propaganda."
   VOA News, 27 May 2010: "The North says it will stop using maritime shortwave radio frequencies with the South and cut off other means of emergency communication." BBC News, 27 May 2010: "In a statement on the North Korean official news agency on Thursday, the North Korean military said the country ... 'will completely stop using international maritime ultra-short wave walkie-talkies and will immediately cut off the communication line that was opened to handle an emergency situation.'" Ultra short wave is a term, common from the Soviet Union, for VHF frequencies. These "walkie-talkies" probably us the marine VHF frequencies in the vicinity of 156-157 MHz.
   GlobalPost, 27 May 2010, Bradley K. Martin: "Head of propaganda before his elevation to top leader, movie buff Kim [Jong-il] is a showman at heart. When it comes to providing incentives for desired behavior, he nearly always comes down on the side of circuses, not bread. His chief public relations concern is impressing North Koreans — particularly the military men who shore up his regime. He cares little for the opinions of the rest of the world."
   Film Journal International, 25 May 2010, Eric Monder: "Like an intricate, intellectual, much crazier version of Borat, The Juche Idea mixes various cinematic forms as a way to parody film propaganda—specifically, the North Korean brand, but really all kinds. ... The title refers to the late North Korean dictator Kim Il-sung’s film 'theory' that cinema should reflect a philosophy of self-reliance, at least communist-style. As odd as that sounds, Finn makes 'the Juche Idea' downright silly by illustrating Kim’s writings with the very agitprop he promoted and a framing story about a South Korean film student (Lee Jung Yoon) who had been kidnapped to North Korea and forced into promoting Kim and the Party. ... At least that seems to be the narrative of The Juche Idea, but Finn disrupts it with clips from such North Korean masterworks as On The Railway and Urban Girl Comes to Get Married, newsreel footage of Kim overseeing the masses (in goose-stepping parades and regimented dance spectaculars), audio from a Voice of America 'biography' of Ronald Reagan (as unreal and campy as the Korean-produced propaganda), and some newly shot, deliberately awkward segments of a Russian visitor (Oleg Mavromatti) in North Korea learning about the joys and wonders of communism under the reign of Kim’s son, Kim Jong-il." See previous post about same subject.

VOA scoop: US hikers detained in Iran will wed. (Three guesses as to which two.)

Posted: 27 May 2010   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 24 May 2010: "The mothers of the American hikers detained in Iran have told VOA that two of the hikers are now engaged to be married, and the third has agreed to be the best man at their wedding once they are released. The mothers, who were interviewed on the VOA's Persian News Network (PNN) Monday, say they learned of the engagement late last week when they visited the three detained hikers for the first time in Tehran. ... VOA has provided extensive coverage of the plight of the three hikers. VOA's Persian News Network has an estimated weekly audience of nearly 20 percent of Iranians 15 and older according to a 2010 survey, despite Iranian efforts to jam international broadcast signals into the country." The mothers were also interviewed by RFE/RL, 25 May 2010.

All eight BBG nominees are now committee approved, await Senate floor vote.

Posted: 26 May 2010   Print   Send a link
At a business meeting on 25 May, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared Michael Meehan and Dana Perino, nominees to the Broadcasting Board of Governors. They join the six others already cleared by the Committee, including Chairman-designate Walter Isaacson, awaiting confirmation by the full Senate.
   Meanwhile, VOA director Dan Austin announced today that Alex Belida, director of VOA Persian News Network, is "effective immediately" being moved to the VOA Director's office as senior adviser, to work with VOA's South Asia division. Belida was named acting director of VOA PNN since September 2008, and was actual director only for the past month.
   Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) was holding the BBG nominations. (See previous posts on 9 May and 30 April 2010.) He has also been critical of VOA PNN broadcasts. (See previous posts on 16 May, 9 May, and 14 April 2008.) Coincidence? Implications? Developing...

RFE/RL Turkmen journalist denied homecoming.

Posted: 26 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 21 May 2010: "Turkmenistan's Migration Office in Ashgabat has banned an RFE/RL journalist from entering the country although he had a valid visa, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports. Allamourad Rakhimov, a Prague-based broadcaster and native of Turkmenistan, arrived at Ashgabat airport early on May 19 with a visa that was initiated by his family. Rakhimov, a Canadian citizen, was planning to vacation in his home village in the southeast Mary Province. He had not been to Turkmenistan in 11 years and has been unable to see his immediate family in that time. ... He believes the reason he was not allowed to enter is due to his work as a journalist at RFE/RL"
   Update: RFE/RL Commentary, 26 May 2010, Allamourad Rakhimov: "The concern manifested by the Turkmen authorities in connection with my attempted visit seems to me to prove once again the truly rotten and shaky nature of the regime. And if that regime is so rotten that one journalist could destroy it, perhaps there is no point in trying to save it." "The views expressed in this commentary are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL."

Former BBC World Service directors Younger and Chapman in the news.

Posted: 26 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The Economic Times (Mumbai), 23 May 2010, Pankaj Molekhi: About Nigel Chapman, former director of BBC World Service, now head of Plan International: "[S]trategic functioning ... has been the forte of Nigel, who worked closely with the launch of BBC regional services and bolstered its online viewership to unprecedented levels. And he is excited about Asia in general and India in particular. ... Asked about his plans and strategy to rewrite the BBC story in Plan International, Nigel’s face lights up. 'One, I want to modernise our functioning by using all the weapons available. An NGO must use modern tools to its advantage.'"
   Civil Society, 19 May 2010: "Sam Younger CBE, former director general of the British Red Cross, is to be the new chief executive of the Charity Commission, succeeding Andrew Hind who has held the role for the past six years. Younger, whose previous roles include founding chair of the Electoral Commission, managing director of BBC World Service - where he was Andrew Hind's boss - and interim chief executive of Shelter, will take up the role in September 2010." See also Third Sector, 25 May 2010.

BBC podcast documentaries: not a boring lecture by a stuffy professor.

Posted: 26 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Download Squad, 24 May 2010, Erez Zukerman: "At first, the idea of 'podcast documentaries' seemed a bit odd to me. It's a documentary to which you listen; there are no images. BBC Documentaries offers quite a few documentaries in this format, for free. Once I started listening to one, I realized why it can actually be a viable medium. ... It's not a boring lecture. It's just like a filmed documentary, but with no images. I mean, you listen to people talking, and there's a narrator, but it's all taken in the field, with the sounds of wind and cars in the background. It's not some stuffy studio with a professor who makes you want to go to sleep. Another nice thing about this particular offering is that the BBC is giving them away for free, and not only within the UK."

BBC Worldwide looks to "rapid growth" in Latin America and US Hispanic markets.

Posted: 26 May 2010   Print   Send a link
C21Media.net, 24 May 2010: "BBC Worldwide (BBCWW) Channels has hired Discovery veteran Dan Salerno as VP of programming for Latin America and the US Hispanic market. ... Salerno will report to Jessica Rodriguez, BBCWW senior VP and general manager for Latin America and US Hispanic territories in his newly created role. ... Rodriguez said the addition of Salerno to the team would speed the 'rapid growth of both BBC Entertainment and CBeebies in Latin America and the US Hispanic market.'" And he will work from the BBC Miami office.

BBC Mundo is criticized from the izquierda for its coverage of Cuban dissidents.

Posted: 25 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Dissident Voice, 22 May 2010, Arnold August: "Cubans in the main know their elected local municipal delegates because they are neighbours and are used to seeing each other almost every day or at least quite often. However, as a result of the media disinformation and black-out, for people outside of Cuba in general the local elected delegate remains a mystery: A blank page. Instead of foreign journalists providing non-Cubans with some portraits of who are the 15,093 elected citizens with several examples, neither exaggerating the positive points nor highlighting only negative experience, there seems to be an effort by the international mass media to hide this feature of the Cuban political system from international public opinion. ... In this context it was quite disappointing to read an article by Fernando Ravsberg, BBC Mundo journalist stationed in Havana for many years. The article is entitled 'Cuban dissidents in an electoral campaign.' The main focus of the March 13 article, as the title suggests, is the role of a dissident who decided to participate in the local nomination procedure in constituency number 47 of the Punta Brava Consejo Popular located in the Municipality of La Lisa, one of the 15 municipalities to be found in the Province of Ciudad de La Habana. ... The BBC Mundo article admits that the dissidents were in an electoral campaign, presenting candidates in various constituencies, even though it is well known that campaigning is not legal in Cuba." -- This is the sort of criticism we usually see for Radio/TV Martí -- located, as is most of the BBC Mundo staff, in Miami. International broadcasters transmitting to, or providing web content to, a closed nation may tend to focus of information that the dictatorship prefer not be disseminated. This could result in the international broadcaster being perceived as the bad-news-about-the-target-country station. On the other hand, Mr. August cannot conveniently sweep news about dissidents under the carpet. Dissent, especially against governments that suppress dissent, is news, no matter where it happens. About Venezuela's television channel ViVe, see Coral Wynter, Green Left, 23 mAY 2010.

"Resumed" radio broadcasts from South to North Korea.

Posted: 25 May 2010   Print   Send a link
AP, 24 May 2010, Hyung-Jin Kim "South Korea's military resumed radio broadcasts airing Western music, news and comparisons between the South and North Korean political and economic situations late Monday, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The military also planned to launch propaganda leaflets Tuesday to inform North Koreans about the ship sinking. In coming weeks, South Korea also will install dozens of propaganda loudspeakers and towering electronic billboards along the heavily armed land border between the two Koreas. The action, which ends a six-year suspension, is expected to draw an angry response from North Korea. The country's military already warned Monday it would fire at any propaganda facilities installed in the Demilitarized Zone." -- The Korean Broadcasting System's KBS Global Radio, on three powerful medium wave transmitters which can easily reach into North Korea, has always been on the air. Is it reverting to more aggressive reporting about North Korea? This network has been criticized in recent years for holding back in its coverage of North Korea, in line with the ROK's policy of reaching out to Pyongyang. Or are the "resumed" broadcasts a revival or revitalization of clandestine stations beamed to North Korea?
   BBC News, 25 May 2010: "South Korea's defence ministry said the first radio programme, entitled Voice of Freedom, went out on Monday evening. Broadcasts would take place three times a day, a spokesman said. He said the programme would be broadcast through high-performance loudspeakers that will be installed along the demilitarised zone. 'Initially we are installing loudspeakers at 14 places along the DMZ (Demilitarised Zone). The installation requires several months of work,' the spokesman told AFP news agency. South Korea says it will also drop propaganda leaflets into the North to tell people about the Cheonan incident as soon as possible, and set up giant electronic billboards to flash messages."
   Bloomberg, 24 May 2010, Bomi Lim: "South Korea broadcast a pop song extolling freedom of choice and a warning on the dangers of overeating into North Korea, ending a six-year moratorium on propaganda in retaliation for the sinking of a warship. The four-hour radio program yesterday evening included a speech by South Korean President Lee Myung Bak outlining his government’s response to the March 26 sinking, which an international panel concluded was caused by a North Korean torpedo. ... The propaganda broadcast made on FM radio began at 6 p.m. local time yesterday when a woman anchor announced what she called the 'voice of freedom.' North Korean listeners were regaled with a song by a South Korean girl band, Four Minute. ... The broadcast then explained how South Koreans no longer experience hunger, and are more worried about getting fat. 'Always remember, we want to share our prosperity with you,' the anchor said, accusing North Korean officials of enriching themselves while the people go hungry."
   AFP, 25 May 2010: "One group of loudspeakers on the Seoul side could be heard more than 20km from the frontline at night time." See previous post about same subject.
   VOA correspondent Steve Herman tweets: "ROK military reported to have launched broadcasts targeting DPRK called 'Voice of Freedom' on 103.1 & 107.3 MHz FM." -- So does the South Korean military know that most North Koreans now have radios with FM bands? Or are they using FM because it is the predominant waveband in the South?

Liberia's Star Radio returns to shortwave.

Posted: 25 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Star Radio (Monrovia), 22 May 2010. "The Management of Star Radio has announced the re-activation of its shortwave service in the Country. The entity’s Station Manager James Morlu disclosed the institution has begun test transmitting on its shortwave service. Mr. Morlu did not state the length of coverage [transmitting range] of the new shortwave service, but said it creates a medium to interact with more listeners. According to him, the frequency of the shortwave is 4.025 MHz and can be caught within the 75-meters band. He believes as the country strives towards its recovery process, it was prudent to have a viable information dissemination channel like the shortwave. ... The Star Radio Station Manager spoke when the UN Refugee Agency, the UNHCR symbolically transferred assets to several of its partners in Liberia including Star Radio." Via Alokesh Gupta.-- This would be typical of the low-powered tropical shortwave band stations used in some countries to reach rural areas not served by FM stations. In general, such domestic shortwave broadcasting is in decline, but occasionally new stations come on the air, and others return to service after an absence.

Last 'Lost' broadcast in 59 countries.

Posted: 25 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The Hollywood Reporter, 23 May 2010, Elizabeth Guider: "Disney's international TV distribution arm on Sunday unveiled its fall primetime slate for foreign program buyers, including 10 new and nine returning scripted series, during the annual international upfront at Disney Studios in Burbank. ... About 1,250 foreign program buyers spend upwards of $7 billion a year on U.S. shows, a hefty sum the studios depend on, especially as the DVD market has slumped during the past few years. International clients caught an inside look Sunday at upcoming content from various Disney production entities including ABC Studios, ABC Family and Walt Disney Studios. ... Launching during the evening was an exclusive prebroadcast screening of the 'Lost' finale introduced by executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. 'We wanted to show our appreciation to the international broadcasters who've been instrumental in the global success of the series,' the producers said. ... The 'Lost' finale will air in 59 countries within 48 hours of Sunday's U.S. broadcast and includes simulcasts in Canada, the U.K., Italy, Spain, Portugal, Israel and Turkey."

BBC world services estimate 241 million weekly audience, up 3 million despite shortwave loss of 20 million.

Posted: 24 May 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service press release, 24 May 2010: "The BBC attracts a record weekly global audience of 241 million people to its international news services like BBC World Service and the BBC World News television channel, according to independent surveys. This is up three million on last year's overall audience estimate. However, the multimedia BBC World Service lost 20 million short wave radio listeners during the year; reflecting the increasing global decline of the medium. ... BBC World Service drew an overall weekly multimedia audience of 180 million across television, radio, online and mobiles. This is eight million down on last year. The audience losses were mainly due to a sharp overall decline in short wave radio listening during the year. Radio audience losses were particularly dramatic in Bangladesh (-7 million), India (-8.2m), and Nigeria (-2.9 m). However, there were significant radio audience gains in Tanzania (+1.4m), and the US (+ 600,000), mainly through BBC programmes being used on local FM and medium wave radio partner stations." Also: 3.4 million for VOA Perian; BBC World News, 71 million; international BBC.com, 17.2 million.
   Financial Times, 24 May 2010, Ben Fenton: "'Where people have access to our programmes on FM, they shift to that platform and they no longer use shortwave,' [BBC Global News director Peter] Horrocks said. 'There is a powerful symbolism about universal availability, but if people haven’t got the [shortwave] sets and they aren’t listening, keeping it going for its own sake, for metaphysical reasons, doesn’t make a lot of sense.' In his first interview since taking over as the BBC’s global news director, Mr Horrocks said that countries such as Burma and Somalia, where there was no prospect of a substitute for shortwave, would remain covered 'for the foreseeable future'. But in the next five years, other shortwave services were likely to be phased out, he said, although no final decisions on which have been made because future funding is unclear."

"CNN-YouTube Tie-Up Broke UK Broadcasting Rules."

Posted: 24 May 2010   Print   Send a link
paidContent:UK, 24 May 2010, Robert Andrews: "A CNN International debate programme that took viewers’ questions via YouTube broke UK rules by offering product placement and sponsorship to the Google video site. The CNN YouTube Debate on Climate Change, as it was called, was aired on UK and worldwide TV in December, during the United Nations Copenhagen Climate Change Summit. ... Now UK media regulator Ofcom, following an investigation, has found that the programme broke two rules of its Broadcasting Code - one barring sponsorship of news programmes, another barring product placement. ... The finding makes it more difficult for TV channels to introduce user-generated input in to shows, if those shows make prominent reference to the channel by which the input is delivered. It means shows like the CNN YouTube U.S. presidental debates could never have been aired on UK TV."

Record profits for BBC Worldwide helped by international sales of programs, formats.

Posted: 24 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 24 May 2010: "The success of television shows overseas including Doctor Who, as well as the sale of formats of The Office, Top Gear and Strictly Come Dancing have helped BBC Worldwide to record profits this year of around £140m. ... BBC Worldwide this month signalled its intent to produce more projects in-house instead of selling formats to Hollywood studios and hired Vlad Wolynetz, an American TV executive whose successes include the advertising drama Mad Men, to help lead the effort. The History Channel in the US recently announced plans to show an American version of Top Gear, which will be co-produced by the BBC."


Posted: 24 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Australian Broadcasting Corporation News, 24 May 2010, Mark Willacy: "South Korea also says it will resume loudspeaker broadcasts at the border that had been suspended for six years as part of its punishment toward the North. But the North says it will open fire at any loudspeakers broadcasting propaganda across the border if South Korea follows through on its pledge to install them. The warnings came in a statement from a military commander carried by the North's KCNA news agency. 'If [South Korea] sets up new tools for psychological warfare such as loudspeakers and leaves slogans for psychological warfare intact, ignoring our demands, we will directly aim and open fire to destroy them,' the statement said." See photo.
   First reported by The Chosun Ilbo, 10 May 2010: "The South Korean military has started preparing to resume psychological warfare against North Korea if it is found that the North had a hand in the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan on March 26. The campaign, which consisted chiefly of loudspeaker broadcasts across the demilitarized zone, was suspended in June 2004 under an agreement in inter-Korean military talks."
   VOA News, 24 May 2010, Kurt Achin: "For decades after the Korean War in the early 1950s, North and South Korea bombarded each other with propaganda broadcasts across the Demilitarized Zone that divides them. The broadcasts ended six years ago, as a result of South Korea's policy then of trying to engage with Pyongyang."
   Korean Central News Agency, 23 May 2010: "S. Korean Puppets' Moves for Confrontation and War Flailed." [sic]

In effort to overcome China's net censorship, "government involvement brings baggage."

Posted: 23 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Strange Attractor, 22 May 2010, Kevin Anderson at the Al Jazeera Unplugged conference: "Kaiser [Kuo] believes that focusing on censorship and The Great Firewall in China is actually crippling our ability to deal with China. It’s a too convenient narrative. ... Everyone here wants to advance internet freedom in China, and Kaiser is quick to say that he supports it. But when the US government that it is dedicating millions of dollars to support internet censorship circumvention technologies, many people changed their minds about the official party line. Some liberal Chinese users came to accept the view that the internet was being used for imperialism. Planting the American flag on this operation might have backfired. The development of the Chinese internet will eventually overwhelm censors. These freedoms should be taken from within. They cannot be granted from without. He applauds private organisations and companies working to help create that change, but to paraphrase Kaiser, government involvement brings baggage."
   China Digital Times, 22 May 2010, Sophie Beach, transcribing Chinese blogger Caomin, recounting his interview with Domestic Security Service: "Caomin: Once the [Shanghai] World Expo comes to a close, the government is going to sell the land and make money. For many people [whose homes were taken] this an additional sort of exploitation. DSD: The World Expo is a huge sign of our country’s rise. It should make us proud. How do you know about all these things that you just spoke of? Caomin: I guess from the overseas media like BBC [British Broadcasting Corporation], VOA [Voice of America], RFI [Radio France International], DW [Duowei, Chinese Media Net], RFA [Radio Free Asia], and The New York Times. Also from Chinese websites that can be opened from within the country like the Singapore zaobao.com. I’ve never trusted the domestic media. After all, at least the Western media is independent and this can ensure their credibility. This is also an important reason why the Western media has become the global media for many people." Brackets in the quote inserted by Sophie Beach. DW is actually Germany's Deutsche Welle.

Al Jazeera will help persecuted bloggers, run their stories.

Posted: 23 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Gulf Times (Doha), 23 May 2010: "On the first day of the Fifth Annual Al Jazeera Forum yesterday, Wadah Khanfar, Director General of the network, announced 'The Al Jazeera Initiative for Internet Freedom', outlining four plans to provide information to the widest possible audience while promoting high standards in online journalism. ... As part of the initiative, Khanfar also announced a programme aimed at supporting the rights of online journalists, bloggers, and other individuals who write and report online. 'There are too many cases of bloggers being persecuted for telling the truth or for voicing their opinions,' said Khanfar. ... The programme will be part of the Network’s Public Liberties and Human Rights Desk and will allow individuals who have faced difficulties to bring their case to the attention of Al Jazeera. The Network will run the stories as part of Al Jazeera’s television broadcast." See also press release via eTurboNews, 23 May 2010.
   Strange Attractor, 22 May 2010, Kevin Anderson at the Al Jazeera forum: "William May, US State Department and the office of innovative engagement, talked about public diplomacy as government to people or people to people diplomacy. The end game of that is mutual understanding. What we have now is very different than what we had 10 years ago. Ten years ago, we had 40,000 people that we moved across borders, and we had broadcasting. We have two bookends, the exchange programmes and on the other end, broadcasting. In the middle, we have all this new stuff like Twitter and QQ."

The transition to a new MD of Al Jazeera English remains unreported, but it is advertised.

Posted: 23 May 2010   Print   Send a link
On page 21 of The Economist, May 22nd-28th 2010, is a display want ad for Managing Director, Al Jazeera English. "The award winning channel is seeking to appoint a Managing Director with responsibility for the well being and management of the channel on all levels. They will be charged with implementing a business plane for growing AJE's positioning, increasing its relevance and content across the global media platform. The Role: •Implementing AJE's vision and values for the Channel whil protecting and perpetuating the current core news service in terms of quality, integrity and financial sustainability. •Be an active contributing member of the Network Editorial Board and Network Executive Board, ensuring that it reaches its aims in a collaborative and collegiate way. •To provide inspiration, leadership and champion the integration of AJE across the network channels." See also www.odgers.com/31213. -- The wording may hint at what Al Jazeera is trying to change by hiring another MD of AJE. Does "integration of AJE across the network channels" mean integration of AJE with the Arabic-language Al Jazeera channels? See previous post about same subject.

Commentator: Al Jazeera English is unexpected, refreshing, leftist, anti-American (updated).

Posted: 23 May 2010   Print   Send a link
National Post (Toronto), 22 May 2010, Robert Fulford:"Most TV news originates in the northern half of the world. Al-Jazeera English wants to break the north's control of the news agenda with ambitious, expensive reporting from all the world's regions, including the poorest. ... The result is unexpected and refreshing. Other networks are international, but al-Jazeera is global: It seems to come from everywhere at once. It's less provincial because there's no such thing as local news on aliJazeera. Asia and the Middle East matter as much as North America and Europe. Al Jazeera looks good beside the other TV cable services I see from time to time (two Canadian, three American, the BBC, Euronews and Deutsche Welle). The stories are exceptionally well photographed, the items longer--so long that people being interviewed sometimes get to finish their sentences. Al-Jazeera won't win prizes for fair coverage of the Middle East. ... It's leftist and anti-American, and therefore anti-imperialist in a particular way."
   Solomon Star, 22 May 2010. "A local [Honiara, Solomon Island] television company has signed an agreement with an internationally acclaimed television network that would see more international programmes televised here. EBN Television ... entered the deal with Arab television network Al-Jazeera, recently. ... Under the agreement, EBN will have rights to televise Al-Jazeera’s English programmes."
   Update: Toronto Star, 23 May 2010, Greg Quill: "Viewers inured to the skewed world view created, out of necessity and with compelling logic, by a business dedicated, long before television, to serving its immediate audience first — local news dominates, followed by regional news, then national news, with overseas news relegated to the outer regions of a faux map — will be stunned, even if they’re prepared for the optics shift, by the dramatic effects of seeing events from all over the world unfold through the eyes of observers for whom the traditional template, with its Western biases and emphasis on money markets, celebrity, power and social well-being, means little or nothing at all. -- Despite attempts to English-up the appearance of the network ... key home-issue programs such as Inside Iraq, a never-ending screaming match between host Jasim Azawi and his weekly guest panelists over arcane political and ideological issues that are never properly explained, are disorientating, to say the least."

Six recent articles mention Voice of America. Five are about Voice of America.

Posted: 23 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Opride.com, 22 May 2010, Oromsis Adula: "The Washington based Voice of America reporters deserve a special mention for their courageous job in giving voice to the [Ethiopian] opposition, whose message is tainted by lack of freedom of press, assembly and speech."
   The Brooklyn Ink, 20 May 2010, Vinnie Rotondaro, interviewing Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov: "You need to understand that the Soviet Union was a very specific country. We lived in a very deep contradiction. In public we supported the communist Soviet ideology. But in the kitchen we listened to the Voice of America. And we read a lot of books…a lot of things that were completely prohibited. And this was our life."
   Deccan Herald (Bangalore), 23 May 2010, Usha K R: All India Radio's "Yuvavani, with its popular Western music programmes was a late entrant in the 70s; by then our hearts were given to Radio Ceylon, to BBC’s foreign service — one recalls offhand, Dave Lee Travis of The Jolly Good Show (surely it was our colonial will to abasement which made us stick with him as he insulted his listeners!), John Peel and Tommy Vance of Rock Salad, Radio Kuwait, Voice of America and Radio Australia."
   VOA Special English, 19 May 2010: "To celebrate our 50th anniversary, we chose ten of you to receive an iPod, Special English T-shirt and Word Book."
   Charlotte Observer, 23 May 2010: "Justin Page of Matthews received the Diane Harvey Bradley Scholarship during the [University of North Carolina] School of Journalism and Mass Communication's year-end scholarship and award ceremony. David Bradley established the $5,000 scholarship to honor the memory of his wife, who worked as a journalist and editor with the Voice of America for more than 30 years. She was known and admired for her leadership in conducting the interview and selection process for the Charles Kuralt Fellowship in International Broadcasting."
   BroadwayWorld.com, 19 May 2010: "The Skokie Theatre Music Foundation presents 'Voice of America' on June 27th, 2010 at 7:00pm. 'Voice of America' is patriotic revue featuring America's favorite songs from World Wars I and II, the Korean and Vietnam years, and Operation Desert Storm."

Early television was on shortwave. And other shortwave in the news.

Posted: 22 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Daily Record (Glasgow), 22 May 2010, Laura Coventry: "John Logie Baird was the father of television. Monday is the 83rd anniversary of his historic broadcast in 1927 from London to Glasgow's Central Hotel. ... Son Malcolm Baird, 75, and his sister, Diane, of Uddingston, near Glasgow, treasure their memories of a hardworking and dedicated father. ... 'My father was seen on the screen in Glasgow while his assistant, Ben Clapp, operated the equipment. He was the key person because he was an expert in shortwave radio.' The man who'd already demonstrated a working television in January 1926 and went on to transmit live moving images more than 400 miles using a telephone line and radio, then followed this with another historic transmission - from London to New York in February 1928."
   Stabroek News (Georgetown), 22 May 2010, letter from Leon Jameson Suseran:"Radio today exists only under Voice of Guyana and 98.1 FM. Radio Roraima is no longer available to Berbicians, and the online feed has not been on either. Shortwave has been under test over the past couple of weeks. Could anyone say if our interior locations are receiving the Voice of Guyana? Radio legislation will not happen until after the next elections, so don’t hold your breath."
   Ode, 19 May 2010, Tracy Barnett: Alberto "Tino" Ramírez Recinos "was assigned to La Voz Popular, the short-wave radio station that transmitted the voice of the Guatemalan resistance. He worked with the production crew on the Mexican side of the border. And then, once a week, he’d wrap a cassette tape tightly in plastic bags and swim across the river that divides the two countries and through enemy territory to a broadcast post on the Guatemalan side. There they set up their short-wave radio and broadcast up to Tajumulco volcano, where that crew caught the message and transmitted it to the world."
   Chicago Tribune, 19 May 2010, Greg Kot: "Since the [Besnard Lakes'] first album, 'Volume 1' in 2003, [Jace Lasek] has been writing about the shadowy world of international espionage. ... The guitarist says he latched on to the theme after discovering 'The Conet Project: Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations,' a four-CD set of shortwave radio transmissions that communicated coded messages to spies in the field."

BBC domestic radio on iPhone will cost Americans $52 per year.

Posted: 22 May 2010   Print   Send a link
paidContent:UK, 19 May 2010, Robert Andrews: "The public-service BBC’s app plans may be on hold in its native UK until its regulating body checks for anti-competitive effects - but, outside of Blighty, the profit-seeking BBC Worldwide wing is pressing ahead with its latest mobile download. The BBC’s boldest step yet in to chargeable content, BBC Listener is a radio app offering over 20 documentary, magazine and discussion shows on-demand, plus access to archive programmes from the last decade. Here’s the bold bit - after the $2.99 download fee, BBC Listener uses iPhone OS 3.0’s in-app subscription feature, requiring uses pay $12.99 per quarter for continued access. There’s potentially a decent U.S. market of public radio afficionados keen for serious news and analysis, and forms part of BBC Worldwide’s big U.S. push. Most of the shows are from BBC Radio 4 - the intellectual station that some Americans I know cite as the world’s only credible objective news source of any scale. But BBC Listener may not be all that good value - many of the shows contained within are available as free downloadable podcasts, as well as for web playback, no matter where in the world listeners are."
   Anglotopia.net, 21 May 2010, Jonathan: "This app is just a start – the BBC needs to prove that people outside the UK are willing to pay for it’s content. That is something we highly advocate – they will only make more of their great stuff available to the US if there proves to be a market for it." See also bbclistener.com.
   This news made me scurry to bbc.co.uk to find out if the live streams and on-demand programs of BBC's Radios 4,3,2, Scotland, etc, are still available -- for free. They are. But with the BBC starting to monetize its domestic radio in the export market, for how long? BBC domestic television online is already off limits to internet users outside the UK. The best international radio available to US audiences is the domestic radio of the BBC.

On the BBC world services, everything about the FIFA World Cup except the play-by-play.

Posted: 22 May 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC World News press release, 21 May 2010: "As Africa plays host to the FIFA World Cup for the first time this June, the BBC’s international news services will offer a unique global perspective on events in the build-up to, and during, the tournament." Includes activities of BBC World Service English, BBC World News, BBC Swahili, Hausa, Arabic, Persian, Brasil, Hindi, Para Africa, and Mundo, as well as press pack.

But otherwise Central Asia is a wonderful place (updated).

Posted: 22 May 2010   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL press release, 19 May 2010: "Corruption, Repression, & Extremism in Central Asia. Wednesday, May 19, 2010, 2:00PM - 3:30PM, 2200 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. ... The event will be moderated by RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin. It will also be live-tweeted... ."
   Update: RFE/RL press release, 19 May 2010: "International Crisis Group's (ICG) Central Asia Director Paul Quinn-Judge ... took part in a briefing hosted by the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs and organized by RFE/RL and ICG to discuss Kyrgyzstan and the wider problems of instability and extremism in Central Asia. ... One bright spot, according to Quinn-Judge, is RFE/RL's presence in Central Asia. 'Radio Azattyk [RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service] played an exceedingly important role during the uprising. They provided a remarkable degree of reliable information, something that continues to be in short supply in Kyrgyzstan and the region,' he said."
   RFE/RL, 21 May 2010: RFE/RL "exclusive" interview with an administrator of the Facebook group "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day," which prompted Pakistan to ban social media sites.

Burmese use international media to stay informed of unrest in Thailand.

Posted: 22 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The Irrawaddy, 21 May 2010: "Thailand's ongoing political crisis is being keenly monitored in neighboring Burma. As Thai troops stormed the Redshirt rally site, Burmese living in Burma followed reports of the dramatic events carried by short wave radio stations, the Internet and satellite TV. State-run newspapers were careful not to report on the mayhem in Thailand. ... Burmese journalists working for the Burmese services of the BBC, Voice of America , Radio Free Asia and The Irrawaddy magazine in Chiang Mai relayed comprehensive news reports to their listeners and readers, while bloggers also added their accounts to the coverage."
   The Irrawaddy, 21 May 2010, Ko Htwe: "According to residents of Rangoon, the only reports of the unrest that are widely available to the public are those that appear in privately owned weekly news journals. For more up-to-date information, some are turning to foreign-based shortwave radio stations, the Internet, or international news networks such as CNN, BBC or Al Jazeera."

In North Korea, "strangely irregular" silence since the Cheonan incident.

Posted: 22 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Asia, 21 May 2010, Sung Hwi Moon and Hee Jung Yang: "The apparent lack of public awareness in North Korea following the Cheonan incident is strangely irregular, residents said, and may indicate that Pyongyang is trying to downplay the severity of the situation inside the country. According to a resident of Hyesan city in North Korea’s Yangang province, in similar situations in the past authorities have prepared the public for a nationwide broadcast. ... When asked if the announcement had been made on closed circuit broadcasting, via speakers installed in homes, the Hyesan resident said: 'Who listens to closed circuit broadcasting these days? Nowadays, closed circuit broadcasting hardly works anywhere in North Korea.'"
   The Chosun Ilbo, 20 May 2010: "Activists failed Thursday to carry out a plan to float 500,000 propaganda leaflets to North Korea from the site where the Navy corvette Cheonan sank on March 26 off Baeknyeong Island. Choi Sung-yong, the leader of the Family Assembly Abducted to North Korea, said severe fog led to the cancelation of a ferry that was supposed to leave Incheon for Baeknyeong Island. ... But even if the activists reach Baeknyeong Island later Thursday, their plan will still be difficult to execute since maritime patrols have banned loading high-pressure gas tanks used for disseminating leaflets. 'If maritime patrols continue to prevent us, we're going to send the leaflets overland.'" See also photo.
   Wall Street Journal, 22 May 2010, editorial. "North Koreans are increasingly aware of how hollow the regime's propaganda is, thanks in part to Radio Free Asia, the Voice of America and broadcasts from North Korean defectors living in the South."
   New Ledger, 21 May 2010, Joshua Stanton: "Radio Free North Korea, The Daily NK, Rimjingang, PSCORE and other organizations also report from North Korea, as does the liberal South Korean Buddhist charity Good Friends. Today, thanks to legislation sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Rep. Ed Royce — and stalled for years by Condoleezza Rice’s State Department — many of the guerrilla news services receive funding from the National Endowment for Democracy. The European Union and NGO’s like Reporters Without Borders provide more funding. Collectively, these services are breaking the North Korean regime’s information blockade."

Taking bets on Turkey's Arabic-language channel -- whatever it's called.

Posted: 22 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Middle East Online, 21 May 2010, Patrick Seale: "Turkey is deepening and strengthening its relations with all its neighbours, emerging as a key player in the Greater Middle East. A straw in the wind was the launch in April of Turkey’s new Arabic language TV channel - TRT Arabic – which is expected to do far better than its competitors: the American-backed Alhurra, BBC Arabic, France 24, Deutsche-Welle-Arabic and Arabic Russia Today." -- Far better? That would be pretty good for a channel the name of which is spelled differently every time it's mentioned in print (and does it have a website?). One of the most interesting things to watch in international broadcasting is the comparative performance of the several Arabic-language channels from non-Arab countries. There will be surveys in the region. I hope the questionnaires include all of these Arabic-language channels. And, in particular, I hope the results of the surveys find their way to the public domain. And, after the survey results, qualitative research to find out why some of these channels are more successful than others in attracting audiences.

The border between CNN and CNN International.

Posted: 22 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Brandchannel.com, 19 May 2010, Barry Silverstein: "Maybe it's time for straight news on cable to throw in the towel. In an increasingly noisy environment, cable television has become a place for loud, opinionated voices rather than reasoned, objective reporting. ... [There is a] disconnect between CNN's domestic and international brands, with its global newsgathering operation trying to uphold CNN's roots as a hardcore journalism brand. Indeed, CNN International last year unveiled a new tagline, 'Go Beyond Borders,' and an image campaign [video] that taps into CNN's coverage of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Perhaps [anchor Campbell] Brown would have been more successful on the less polarized CNN International. In any event, her departure highlights that CNN US is fighting for its life in a different kind of warfare than that typically covered on CNNI."
   AgencySpy, 19 May 2010, Matt Van Hoven: "Heimat, Berlin are behind a campaign for CNN International that marks the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and simultaneously launches CNN International's new slogan: Go Beyond Borders. ... Some 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) of tape bearing the CNN logo were laid out to show where wall once stood. In some cases the tape ran through restaurants and other buildings erected in place of the legendary wall."

Greece, in arrears, unable to advertise its tourism on international channels.

Posted: 21 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Financial Times, 19 May 2010, Kerin Hope: "Greece is struggling to rebuild its image as a relaxing Mediterranean holiday destination in the wake of deadly anti-austerity riots in Athens... It does not help that GNTO, Greece's state tourist organisation, has lost access to international electronic media such as CNN and BBC World. It still owes television channels and international print media more than €80m ($98m, £68m) from previous campaigns between 2007 and 2009."

The international broadcasting of poker.

Posted: 21 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Gaming Intelligence, 21 May 2010: "The Poker Channel, Europe’s largest dedicated gaming TV network, has said that it will be launching its services for the first time in Argentina and South Africa, increasing its reach to a total of 26 million TV homes across thirty countries. ... 'It shows the desire to play and watch poker continues to grow around the world.' ... The Poker Channel recently announced it is launching a dedicated French-language channel this year, as well as expanding to another three markets in Europe including Latvia, Monaco and Austria."

New York Times calls VOA "independent," and other Ethiopia media news.

Posted: 21 May 2010   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 20 May 2010, Jeffrey Gettleman: "Ethiopia gets roughly a billion dollars a year in aid from American taxpayers; at the same time, the government is jamming radio broadcasts from the American-financed Voice of America, one of the few major independent media outlets left in the country."
   Washington Times, 21 May 2010, Ashish Kumar Sen: "A bipartisan group of lawmakers says the Obama administration must speak out against human rights violations in Ethiopia ahead of elections in the Horn of Africa nation on Sunday. ... 'Like most Americans, we believe that our country must never be silent about grave human rights abuses. Yet in recent years our government has rarely spoken out about the Meles government's human rights violations,' the lawmakers wrote. They said the Ethiopian government had started jamming Voice of America broadcasts in April."
   VOA press release, 19 May 2010: "The Voice of America is expanding coverage of Sunday's Ethiopian parliamentary elections with special daily radio programs in English, enhanced multi-media efforts, and additional live broadcast hours on election-day in Amharic, Tigrigna, and Afaan Oromoo. ... VOA's Horn of Africa service will broadcast live to Ethiopia election-day from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the evening, bringing uncensored coverage to its large audience through shortwave and on VOA 24, a new satellite service carried by Arabsat."

Eritrean complaints of radio and satellite jamming by "external forces."

Posted: 21 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Shabait website (Asmara), 20 May 2010, via BBC Monitoring via Radio Netherland Media Network: "At a time when acts of slander and lies on the part of external forces and their stooges are being fully exposed and rendered futile over time, thanks to the Eritrean people’s rebuff to the sanctions resolution, these external forces seek to muffle Eritrean voice through jamming Eritrean radio and satellite transmission. It is not difficult to discern as to who is behind such a ploy and why or where from such acts of jamming are being undertaken through highly sophisticated technology."

"Too few Russians currently go online for their news."

Posted: 21 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Window on Eurasia, 19 May 2010, Paul Goble: "Too few Russians currently go online for their news and even fewer of them can cope with the variety and often contradictory quality of its reporting for the Internet to be able to compensate when Moscow decides to throw up an information blockade around events it would like Russians to ignore, according to Russian observers. Evidence for that conclusion, the editors of 'Nezavisimaya gazeta' say in a lead article today, is provided by what has taken place since Moscow ordered OMON troops to crush protests in Mezhdurechensk. ... Since the OMON clashes with the miners, the paper observes, 'the federal television channels have practically ignored the protests of the miners,' leaving most Russians with little or no reliable information about them, especially since 'only 38 percent of Russians' have a personal computer linked to the Internet."

Undersea cables (which hastened the decline of shortwave communications) are vulnerable.

Posted: 21 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Wire Update, 19 May 2010, Joda Thongnopnua: "A recent Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) report stated that urgent action is needed to diversify the global deep-sea cable networks that the internet depends on, to secure them against attacks and accidents that could lead to economic disaster. The report highlighted the vulnerability of businesses worldwide to the targeting of choke points in subsea communication networks by saboteurs, pirates, and thieves. International internet and telephone links are almost entirely dependent on bundles of fibre-optic cables that span the oceans."

Dubai as antidote to messages of "helplessness and hopelessness" in the Arab media.

Posted: 21 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Khaleej Times, 20 May 2010, Ma’Moon Sbeih: "At home and through the hundreds of TV channels spreading across the Arab world, we have been consistently informed that much of the Western world (add 'Zionism' as and when needed) will never allow for an Arab renaissance or Arab democracy, unity, development and prosperity. We have been told, 'They are too strong and we can never beat them. They will never let us prosper—to keep us dependent on them and constantly busy, scrambling for life’s most basic needs such as food and shelter.' ... If one listens to BBC Arabic radio that broadcasts, and hosts debates from, across the Arab world, or listens to Al Jazeera or Al Arabiya, it does not take much to realise that the arguments I have just presented are strikingly shared by the educated and the uneducated alike, as well as by the poor and the wealthy, the young and the old. ... What makes young men poor or rich, educated or otherwise, rush toward their death is not poverty. It is the sense of helplessness and hopelessness. It comes after decades of consistent messaging that whatever you do 'they won’t let you rise.' ... But what does Dubai have to with all this? As much as it may sound odd, in Dubai and in the United Arab Emirates in general, hard work pays. In Dubai, to make it, you don’t need to be the son of, or the cousin of, or the partner of someone important; you don’t have to have paid off someone important. ... Dubai is a city that has challenged the endemic hopelessness the Arab world faces; it has completely opened up both socially and economically to the rest of the world."

Al Jazeera event in Doha will discuss new media.

Posted: 21 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Gulf Times (Doha), 19 May 2010: "Al Jazeera is to hold a series of discussions focusing on the state of the media and the role new media and online information sites will play in the future of the industry, an official said. The seminar, titled ‘Unplugged’, will be part of the Fifth Annual Al Jazeera Forum and will take place on May 22 at the Sheraton Hotel. The events will be open to the public and will be free of charge, the official said. ... Featured speakers include M J Rosenberg, of Media Matters; Joi Ito, of Creative Commons; Robin Sloan, of Twitter; William May, from the US State Department; and Juliana Rotich, of Ushahidi. More information can be obtained at http://unplugged.eventbrite.com."
     Al Jazeera press release, 20 May 2010: A "second seminar, presented by the Al Jazeera Public Liberties and Human Rights desk, is titled 'Media Freedom Between the Exercise of Rights and Responsibility.' The symposium will examine how to achieve best practice in the freedom of information, specifically in international agreements on human rights and in national constitutions."

Bahrain suspends Al Jazeera operations.

Posted: 21 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 19 May 2010: "Bahrain has suspended local operations of Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera and barred a crew from traveling to the Gulf Arab state, accusing the channel of flouting press rules. Al Jazeera, with a record of tense relations with Arab states over its coverage of sensitive political topics, has recently aired programs on poverty and the treatment of Asian laborers, both sensitive matters in Bahrain."
   Aljazeera.net, 19 May 2010: "Al Jazeera, which does not have a bureau in Manama, expressed its regret for the decision, but said the network had not received any official intimation. The company said its editorial policy and professional style in dealing with events and issues have not changed. Al Jazeera is always committed to the logo it declared since the first day of its launch, that is 'Equal opportunity for opinions and counter opinions', the network said."
   Gulf News (Dubai), 20 May 2010, editorial: "Despite its progress in many other areas, the Arab world is still intolerant of free media. This must change. Otherwise, we will not be able to address the countless critical problems we have in this region."
   Gulf News, 21 May 2010: "'There are agreements between us and Al Jazeera, and the other party has, maybe unintentionally, flouted them,' Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammad Al Khalifa, the Culture and Information Minister, said. 'There will be a Memorandum of Understanding that will be prepared to clear up the circumstances that resulted in the temporary freeze.'"
   Reporters sans frontières, 20 May 2010: “We firmly condemn this ban on Al Jazeera and we urge the culture and information ministry to rescind this decision.”
   MoroccoBoard.com, 18 May 2010, Jamal-Elabiad "[W]ith regard to Al Jazeera’s blind eye to what’s happening in Qatar, I know many guests of Al Jazeera who did criticize live on-air both Qatar’s trade links with Israel and its military agreements with the United States. ... Al Jazeera TV channel, albeit those rumors, is still the first channel the majority of Arabs rely on for news, documentaries and politically related programs. Many reasons lie behind that, one is that it that it reports without red-lines. In other words, it sheds light on issues the Arab governments do not want their citizens to know about. This is no doubt the reason why the office of Al Jazeera has been closed in many Arab countries, including Algeria and Tunisia."

Emirates News Agency footages coming soon to Euronews?

Posted: 21 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Emirates News Agency, 18 May 2010: "Dr. Riyad Maasaas, Head of the Arabic News Desk, Euronews, has paid a visit to the National Media Council for talks on ways of boosting joint media cooperation. Euronews produces and broadcasts news programs simultaneously in nine languages on issues that pertain both to the European Union as to the world. Maasaas said his network, a multilingual and pan-European television news channel which reaches an audience of more than 300 million, stands ready to to develop cooperation with the Emirates News Agency (WAM). ... The two sides discussed the mode through which WAM can feed its news and news footages on various political, economic, social, cultural and tourist activities in the UAE to Euronews, which in turn, will transmit them through its network of channels."

Al Jazeera journalist proposes to Russia Today presenter -- on the air.

Posted: 21 May 2010   Print   Send a link
RIA Novosti, 19 May 2010: "A presenter on English language satellite TV station Russia Today (RT) was proposed to on Wednesday live on air. English journalist for Arab news network Al Jazeera Neave Barker proposed to RT presenter Anna Fedorova on the channel's Prime Time Russia program. Barker was invited onto the Prime Time Russia program to discuss the Night at the Museum project held in Moscow last weekend, but broke off discussions to pop the question. ... 'Anya Fedorova, will you marry me?' Barker asked. Barker's proposal came as a complete surprise to Anna, but she accepted and Barker was applauded by RT staff as he presented her with a wedding ring."

Twenty fifth anniversary of Radio Martí.

Posted: 21 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 20 May 2010: "Today marks the 25th anniversary of the launch of Radio Marti, which began its broadcasts to Cuba with a simple 'buenos dias Cuba.' In the years since, Radio Marti's news programs, dedicated to being accurate, objective and comprehensive, have offered the Cuban people a welcome alternative to state-controlled media propaganda."
   Radio y Television Martí website, 20 May 2010: "Radio Martí transmitió en el día de hoy un programa especial en su 25 aniversario, con un recuento de los momentos más emotivos e importantes de ese acontecimiento que marcó un antes y un después en la historia reciente de Cuba." With audio.
   Radio y Television Martí website, 20 May 2010, Pedro Roig, Director of Radio y TV Martí: "En estos 25 años, Radio Martí ha fomentado el desarrollo de la sociedad civil en Cuba con noticias e informaciones objetivas, balanceadas y precisas, brindándole al pueblo de Cuba las noticias que le niega el régimen marxista."
   San Francisco Examiner, 20 May, Barbara Hollingsworth: "Twenty-five years from now, Radio Marti will hopefully be the victim of its own success." See previous post about same subject.

BBC World Service begins series on soft power. "America ... is not the only model."

Posted: 20 May 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service "Documentary," 17 May 2010: "The US was once the undisputed global powerhouse. Now it is under threat from contenders who use the influence of culture and lifestyle to fight for global economic and political dominance. This political manipulation is referred to as soft power – achieving what you want by attracting and persuading others to adopt your customs - thriving on control, not force. In this series, Philip Dodd investigates how this cultural rivalry is being formed and what weapons of persuasion are being deployed, from global sporting fixtures to cultural events and educational projects. In the first part, he takes a look at how China's global charm offensive is taking shape - why they want to be loved and take the world's attention. ... Philip also reflects on how America - the country where soft power was first thought of - l to follow. After the wars in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and the financial crisis - many are even questioning the principal of democracy itself." With audio.

BBC World Service and its "limited shelf life."

Posted: 20 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The Register, 19 May 2010, John Lettice: BBC MD Mark Thompson's speech on 11 May at Chatham House was "the classic defence of the World Service, but there's something of a pea and shell game going on here, because Thompson isn't just talking about the BBC World Service, but also about BBC Worldwide, bbc.com and BBC World News. Thompson presents all of these as components of that single global mission, but their funding, their objectives and the constraints they face are very different. ... World Service is government funded and does mainly radio, while everything else is at least aspirationally commercial. ... In the long run it's up to the British government to decide why and whether there's a point to paying for the BBC to speak peace unto the rest of the world, but the way the World Service has done this in the past now has limited shelf-life, and adequate funding for more contemporary replacements is unlikely. The BBC, says Thompson, still has huge towers in Ascension beaming short wave World Service broadcasts to Africa, but this audience will clearly decline, and increasingly World Service programming will be delivered through deals with local FM stations and via the internet. In delivery, therefore, the 'global mission' will look increasingly like the 'self funding' commercial international operations, except that the news will be paid for by the FCO. ... The move from short wave to other delivery mechanisms makes the World Service more like the commercial operations in another respect; broadcasts become more vulnerable to censorship and to self-censorship. There's a simplicity to being able to beam the voice of freedom and impartiality from offshore, but that vanishes when El Presidente can just tell your local FM or broadcast partner, or ISPs to pull the plugs on you. If you're dependent on local pipes, then you'll frequently find yourself having to deal with your own equivalents of Google's China question." -- There is commercial potential for international broadcasting in English and perhaps a few other languages such as Spanish and Arabic. Most other languages, such as Burmese, Swahili, and Bangla, will require a subsidy. See previous post about same subject.

BBC Worldwide brings Home Cooking to Africa, Asia, and Poland.

Posted: 20 May 2010   Print   Send a link
WorldScreen.com, 19 May 2010:"BBC Global Channels has taken on the 13x30-minute Rachel Allen: Home Cooking for broadcast in Africa, Asia and Poland."
   C21Media.net, 20 May 2010, Ed Waller: "'Although preschool children around the world are similar in nature and development, it is important to localise the look and feel of our channel to enhance the connection with our audiences,' explains Jessica Rodriguez, senior VP and general manager of BBC Worldwide Channels Latin America and US Hispanic. Regarding the new local quotas [on animation production] in Brazil, she adds: 'This is legislation that has been talked about for a long time and we're aware of that. As the BBC, we follow the legislation in every single market. There's a local element that is important for everything we do at the BBC. All commercial stations are aware of the legislation they have to follow, and that is part of entering any market.'"

Conflict? BBC World News America's Matt Frei moonlights at commercial conference.

Posted: 20 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Media Bistro, 18 May 2010, Kevin Allocca: "BBC World News America's Matt Frei is one of the anchors for the Frankfurt portion [of software provider SAP's SAPPHIRE® NOW conference]. Asked whether there is a potential conflict of interest, a BBC spokesperson tells TVNewser, 'Like other news organizations the BBC does not have a blanket prohibition on its anchors making outside appearances. In this instance approval was sought from the appropriate editor and, in accordance with guidelines, was granted because the moderator role for the anchor does not conflict with his editorial obligations.'"

Scrappage: Sending analog radio sets to Africa.

Posted: 20 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Daily Mail, 19 May 2010: "A scrappage scheme for radios to encourage a mass crossover to digital broadcasting will be unveiled today. The initiative, involving major electronic retailers such as Currys, will see customers offered a 20 per cent discount on a digital set if they hand in an analogue model. The aim is to persuade owners of around 100million analogue radios still in use around Britain to buy the new sets. ... Digital Radio UK, the body managing digital-radio switchover, will announce the deal. Old radios will be given to charity and shipped out to Africa. In some parts of the continent, they are the main source of communication and the BBC World Service is particularly popular." -- Most of the scrappage radios won't have shortwave bands, which means that they can't be used to receive BBC World Service in Africa, unless the new owner is in one of the cities where BBCWS has an FM outlet.

Report: MP4 players and South Korean TV drama increasingly popular in North Korea.

Posted: 20 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Daily NK, 19 May 2010, "Jin Hyuk Su, from Pyongyang in 2009": "Demand for MP4 (MP3+video) files and the media devices to play them on continues to grow in North Korea, according to a source from Pyongyang. The source reported yesterday in a phone interview, 'Among the younger generation in Pyongyang and Shinuiju, taking pleasure in using MP4 files is a trend, while even general citizens are tending to seek out better quality radio.' The source said, 'Since MP4 files and CD players started circulating, smugglers and Korean-Chinese traders have been importing devices in bulk,' adding, 'Young people are now sharing music and movies with their friends.' ... [S]ince 2002, when markets were legalized, South Korean TV dramas and movies have been gaining popularity in North Korea. From that time, foreign movies started circulating very rapidly, leading people to comment, 'Even though we are starving, we have to watch movies.' The source also explained, 'Regardless of age, people like to listen to Radio Free Asia, the Central People’s Radio Voice of China, South Korean religious radio broadcaster Far East Broadcasting Corporation and others. We enjoy South Korean dramas, too. Since early May, a South Korean drama called Chasing Slaves has been quite popular with the younger generation.'" -- "Central People's Radio Voice of China" might be Korean-language Chinese domestic radio serving the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture and heard over the border on medium wave.
   From Wikipedia: "The name MP4 player is a marketing term for portable media players that comply with certain standards and formats. The name itself is a misnomer, since most MP4 players are incompatible with the MPEG-4 Part 14 or the .mp4 container format. Instead, the term symbolizes their status as successors of MP3 players."

Antisocialmedia Pakistan bans Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Wikipedia.

Posted: 20 May 2010   Print   Send a link
AP, 20 May 2010, Sabastian Abbot: "The Pakistani government blocked access to YouTube on Thursday because of 'sacrilegious' content on the video-sharing website, signaling a growing Internet crackdown against sites deemed offensive to the country's majority Muslim population. The move against YouTube came a day after the government blocked access to Facebook amid anger over a page on the social networking site that encourages users to post images of Islam's Prophet Muhammad. ... The regulatory body said it has blocked more than 450 Internet links containing offensive material, but it is unclear how many of the links were blocked in the last two days. Access to the online encyclopedia site Wikipedia and the photo sharing site Flickr also was restricted Thursday. ... Online reaction to the Facebook ban was supportive in the initial hours after it was implemented. But comments on Twitter — which was still unblocked Thursday and drawing new users thanks to bans on other sites — showed many Internet users were angry about the new, wide-ranging restrictions."

Find the South Africa in the new YouTube South Africa version.

Posted: 20 May 2010   Print   Send a link
AfricaNews, 18 May 2010: "A local version of the world's biggest online video sharing platform YouTube has launched in South Africa. The internet search giant Google announced that - http://www.youtube.co.za - is to give South Africans a way to easily discover local content and content producers. ... Google Africa blog said: 'From now on when users in South Africa visit the site, they will see, for example, the most popular and most viewed videos in South Africa along with local content that closely matches their interests.'" -- I went to that URL. Nothing is branded or labeled South Africa. The ad at the top asks "Are you the Hardest Working person in America?". There do seem to be more featured videos about Africa (but not specifically South Africa) than one would see at the base youtube.com. During my visit, two videos in the top row were about Prime Minister Raila Odinga of Kenya.
   YouTube blog, 30 April 2010: "There are five new languages in which YouTube can be experienced: Greek, Hungarian, Finnish, Danish and Norwegian."

If not Yenura, then Yazmi: new bid to sell Worldspace to entity controlled by its founder.

Posted: 20 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 19 May 2010, Chris Forrester: "The Delaware bankruptcy court is expected to shortly approve the sale of Worldspace’s assorted assets to Yazmi USA LLC., for $5.5m. Yazmi is owned and controlled by Noah Samara, founder, former chairman, president and CEO of Worldspace. Samara was also behind the failed purchase of Worldspace’s assets by Yenura. The deal with Yazmi was struck on May 9, and will include all of the AsiaStar and AfriStar assets, including those of ‘SatCo’, the shadowy company that has one director (James Laramie, an executive at Worldspace since 1990) as well as some considerable Worldspace assets. A fresh schedule of assets was filed with the court on May 18."
   Wall Street Journal, Bankruptcy Beat, 20 May 2010, Eric Morath: "Samara’s latest offer might be the last chance to save the company that once broadcast everything from Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith hits to National Public Radio’s 'All Things Considered' to the developing world. The goal of the company was to provide programming to low-cost portable satellite radios sold in areas that lack entertainment and news options. In order to execute the proposed sale, WorldSpace placed one of its formerly non-bankrupt subsidiaries, SatCo, into Chapter 11 protection Wednesday. The deal with Yazmi will be subject to better offers at a court-supervised auction for the assets." See previous post about same subject.

Report: Statement on alleged World Cup plot viewed by Iraqi authorities, then by Alhurra audience.

Posted: 19 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 18 May 2010, Martin Chulov: "The alleged al-Qaida leader accused of plotting to attack next month's football World Cup in South Africa claims he had merely sketched notes for the idea and given them to a senior Iraqi militant, but had not heard back from him. Abdullah Azzam Salih Misfar said his plans had not progressed past a wishlist phase and stemmed from ongoing attempts to find a way to punish Denmark for the publication by a Danish cartoonist two years ago of images of the prophet Muhammad. ... Misfir today made a full statement to an Iraqi television station, al-Hurra, which will air tomorrow after first being viewed by government agents." -- Alhurra is, of course, US government sponsored. There is an Iraqi version of the channel.

Departure of Tony Burman as MD, no less, of AJE, no less, is curiously unreported.

Posted: 19 May 2010   Print   Send a link
journalism.co.uk, 19 May 2010: "Al Jazeera is planning to increase its expansion in North America with the appointment of Tony Burman as chief strategic advisor for the Americas. Burman has been managing director of Al Jazeera English (AJE) since May 2008 and will take up his new post at the end of June." -- Even journalism.co.uk follows the diversionary Al Jazeera press release (see previous post) by relegating the lead to the second sentence. I'm sure Mr. Burman's work in the Americas will be important, but it's no longer managing director of Al Jazeera English, one of the big three global English-language news channels.

Chinese government website faults VOA and AFP for indoor air pollution story.

Posted: 19 May 2010   Print   Send a link
China.org.cn, 19 May 2010, Chen Chen & John Sexton: "A shocking news report that indoor air pollution kills 2.2. million young people, including one million under-fives, in China every year was yesterday disowned by its supposed sources. But not before it had been published by most major domestic news outlets. The May 16 news report from the China News Service claimed the figure appeared in a report issued by an organization called the Health Guidance Center for Youth – said to be part of the China Standardization Committee. But journalists from Xinhua and China.org.cn who followed up the story were told by the China Standardization Committee that there is no such organization as the Health Guidance Center for Youth. ... Song Guangsheng, director of the China Indoor Environment Quality Inspection Center pointed out that, worldwide, only 1.6 million people die from respiratory diseases caused by indoor air pollution. Despite the statistical improbability of the story, most domestic news outlets readily reprinted it, regarding the China News Service as an authoritative source. Major international news outlets were more discriminating; only Agence France Presse (AFP) and Voice of America reproduced it. AFP has since published a clarification that amounts to a retraction." Refers to VOA News, 17 May 2010. See also AFP, 18 May 2010. -- Now it becomes complicated, because in China, denials by officials also need to be checked. About china.org.cn: "The authorized government portal site to China, www.china.org.cn is published under the auspices of the State Council Information Office and the China International Publishing Group in Beijing."

Radio Australia is host to Radio Thailand staff, "political troubles behind them."

Posted: 19 May 2010   Print   Send a link
ABC Central Victoria, 19 May 2010, Jonathan Ridnell: "Seven staff from Radio Thailand have left their political troubles behind them, and are in Australia as part of an exchange with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Our international broadcaster, Radio Australia has introduced the group to technicians, managers, producers and content makers in our state headquarters in Melbourne, before bringing them on a day trip to Bendigo."

Two-year delay in installing 600 kW medium wave transmitter for US broadcasts to Iran.

Posted: 18 May 2010   Print   Send a link
CNN, 17 May 2010, Charley Keyes: "A 'high priority' part of U.S. efforts to reach out to Iranians has been silenced because of a two-year delay in building an important radio transmitter, according to a new government report. The State Department inspector general's report says the delays hurt U.S. efforts to broadcast news and information into Iran in crucial periods during the 2009 Iranian election and the following civil unrest. ... The 600,000-watt transmitter -- designed to reach a high priority audience in Iran -- was initially slated to be operational by May 2008. But a two-year delay of the $5.2 million project meant 'the powerful transmitter was not available following the June 12, 2009, disputed election in Iran, and it remains unavailable,' the inspector general report notes. 'Existing medium-wave assets at the Kuwait transmitting station can reach only a narrow band of the western portion of Iran,' the inspector general's report continues. Iran's government has increasingly limited internet and media access inside Iran. ... 'The contracting challenges at the Kuwait Transmitting Station have been resolved. Acceptance testing and final commissioning of the transmitter is scheduled for May 2010,' Broadcasting Board of Governors spokeswoman Tish King told CNN in an email response to questions. 'If the tests go as expected, the transmitter should be ready to go operational by the autumn of 2010.' The Kuwait site has been operating since 1983 and there already are already eight U.S. transmitters there." -- US international broadcasting achieves larger audiences in Iran through satellite television than through radio. On radio, medium wave is easier to jam than shortwave.

"The era of one-way broadcasting is dying."

Posted: 18 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Mashable, 17 May 2010, Greg Ferenstein: "[T]he U.S. State Department, America’s public relations branch, has been charged with the difficult task of engaging in the dialogue surrounding the controversial policies discussed in almost every corner of the world. Social media has proven to be a valuable tool in this regard, and the State Department has made impressive gains in their mission to turn conflict into conversation. ... Every single Department official I spoke with admitted that the era of one-way broadcasting is dying. The ubiquity of mobile and social technologies means the U.S. must now have an ear as well as a voice. It seems like an unprecedented opportunity to open a dialogue with people and communities all over the world who would otherwise be isolated."
   Were those State Department officials referring to US international broadcasting? Even before the internet, the best international broadcasting made use of feedback, input, and news tips from listeners, usually sent by airmail, sometimes by telephone.
   Even if the State Department could read and amalgamate the input of millions of twitterers, as a general rule those tweets will not make US policy. The policymakers will make the policies. Those policies will be announced to the world as a one-way "broadcast." Like this, for example.

Funding BBC World Service radio drama, exporting BBC television drama (updated).

Posted: 18 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The Stage, 4 May 2010: "BBC head of radio drama Alison Hindell ... warned the future of drama on BBC World Service, which is funded by the Foreign Office, is 'hanging in the balance'. Two years ago, the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain penned a letter to then World Service director Nigel Chapman about the decline of drama broadcast, claiming a reduction since 2005 had resulted in a loss of 100 hours of commissions for writers and 600 days of work for actors. The World Service currently broadcasts around 13 plays a year, eight of which are made by the BBC, with the remainder consisting of foreign imports or productions made by the independent sector. Hindell said: 'There is a question mark over World Service drama, because the Foreign Office is under huge financial pressure.'" -- Radio plays are a wonderful art form. But, as more and more people in the BBC World Service audience have access to television and other competing media, holding their attention for the wonderful art form may be more and more difficult. See previous post about World Service funding.
   The Independent, 5 May 2010, Gerard Gilbert: "The British may make better short-form drama, but a 22-part season just has longer to make an impact. 'British dramas don't imprint on the culture in the same way as the American series," [author Tony Marchant] says. 'When you're trying to compete for attention it's very hard for a beautifully written, searingly honest three or four-parter to compete with the likes of Lost and 24, Sopranos and The Wire and Mad Men and Six Feet Under. It's simply a question of scale really.' The news this week that BBC Worldwide has hired Mad Men executive Vlad Wolynetz in its continuing quest to crack the notoriously difficult US drama market, was intriguing on several levels. Having for years dismissed the classy products of HBO and AMC as too niche and beyond its budget and remit, it seems that the BBC has now found a way of joining in the renaissance of American TV drama. Wolynetz and BBC Worldwide will not be producing dramas for the mass market networks, but for subscription-only cable TV. This marks a sea change from recent practice, in which BBC shows like Life on Mars and Torchwood were flogged to networks like Fox and ABC, both failing in this heavily risk-averse environment. Cable would allow quirkier, more sophisticated fare to live and breathe, and if they score an international hit like The Wire, the rewards will be enormous."
   Update: BBC America press release, 17 May 2010: "BBC America today announced the co-production of a new high concept drama Outcasts. ... Outcasts is set in 2040 on a recently-discovered planet and tells of the dilemmas, loves and lives of a group of people setting up a new world. This life-sustaining planet is now home to the surviving population from Earth. Here there is a chance to start again, to bring the lessons learnt from Earth and to put them into action on a new planet. The series begins on the day the last known transporter from Earth arrives, prompting great excitement on the new planet - who is on board?"
   WorldScreen.com, 17 May 2010: "John de Mol's Talpa Media [based in Hilversum, the Netherlands] has picked up a minority stake in the Russian production outfit Mir Reality, founded by Vladimir Utin and Simon Tucker. ... In Russia, Talpa becomes the first outside investor for Mir, which has built is business producing local versions of international formats, among them BBC Worldwide's Top Gear. Announcing the investment, de Mol noted: 'Next to the fact that Russia is the biggest country in the world, it's also Europe's fastest-growing media market. For us the stake in Mir is a great way to establish a partnership with a top producer who already proves how to adapt BBC and other international formats to the Russian taste.'"

BBC's Network Africa interviews five African first ladies.

Posted: 18 May 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service press release, 17 May 2010: "BBC World Service's interactive radio programme for Africa, Network Africa, has been granted rare access to state houses in five African countries for exclusive interviews with the first ladies of Ghana, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia. The BBC's Veronique Edwards travelled to the five countries to meet up and interview the first ladies. The exclusive interviews will be broadcast in a series of special programmes on Network Africa starting Monday 17 May. The first ladies speak candidly about their role in their societies and their relationships with their husbands, giving a new and fascinating perspective into the men in power." -- Will Network Africa next go to South Africa, where it can interview three first ladies in one country?

Who will replace Tony Burman as MD of Al Jazeera English?

Posted: 18 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Al Jazeera press release, 17 May 2010: "Al Jazeera has announced that Tony Burman will move into the position of Chief Strategic Advisor for The Americas to accelerate expansion in the North American market. This announcement follows the recent successful launch of Al Jazeera English in Canada, a significant breakthrough in North America, which was directed and overseen by Mr. Burman. In his new role, based in North America and reporting to the Director General of the Al Jazeera Network, Mr. Burman will focus on new projects and strategies in North America to expand the reach, reputation and profile of Al Jazeera as the world's leading international news and current affairs provider. Next month, the channel will open a Canadian news bureau, making AJE the only international news channel with a bureau in Canada. In addition, AJE will continue to expand its presence in North America by opening additional news bureaus in the U.S., increasing coverage of Latin America and adding new programming to reflect AJE's commitment to cover the world comprehensively with fairness, intelligence and depth. Mr. Burman has served as Managing Director of Al Jazeera English since May 2008 and will continue in this position in Doha until the end of June when he assumes his new role. He will remain as a member of the Network's Senior Executive Team. ... 'The United States and Canada remain priority markets for Al Jazeera,' said Wadah Khanfar, Director General of Al Jazeera Network. 'Tony has brought a tremendous amount of energy and insight into this key region and will continue to do so in this newly established position. Al Jazeera is committed to playing a significant role in the North American media market, both by bringing the channel to North American audiences and by accurately conveying stories from The Americas to the rest of the world.'" -- Although Burman is stepping down from responsibility for all of Al Jazeera English, getting AJE on more US cable outlets will be a formidable task. The appointment of a new MD for AJE will be awaited with anticipation, as AJE is one of the "big three" English-language global news channels (CNN International and BBC World News being the others).

President Obama signs free press bill at event with restricted media coverage.

Posted: 17 May 2010   Print   Send a link
New York Times, The Caucus, 17 May 2010, Peter Baker. "President Obama signed legislation on Monday intended to promote free press around the world, a bipartisan measure inspired by the murder in Pakistan of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter, shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act requires the State Department to expand its scrutiny of media restrictions and intimidation as part of its annual review of human rights in each country. ... The ceremony on Monday raised some eyebrows as well because the White House restricted media access as the president signed a free press bill. The event was open only to a pool of reporters and photographers who report back to their colleagues. ... Chip Reid, a CBS News correspondent, tried to exercise his press freedom by asking the president a question about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. 'Speaking of press freedom, could you answer a couple of questions on BP?' Mr. Reid asked. ... 'We won’t be answering,' the president responded. 'I’m not doing a press conference today.'"

Iranian-Dutch journalist calls for more investigative reporting by Western stations broadcasting to Iran.

Posted: 17 May 2010   Print   Send a link
PBS Frontline, 15 May 2010, Iranian-Dutch chief editor of Tehran Review Shervin Nekuee, interviewed by Jim Higdon of the Frontline Tehran Bureau: "Q: You seem to be critical of what one might call the traditional pro-democracy, establishment news sources broadcasting into Iran - BBC Persia and Voice of America. How have these news sources covered the Green Movement? And what, in your opinion, have they failed to do? Nekuee: ... First, there is a tremendous growth of new media, like our website Tehran Review, and second, the existing Persian-language media of the international establishment - BBC, VOA and Radio Free Europe - have seen increasing in their budget and activity. However, growth of quantity isn't equal to growth of quality. My main point on Persian-language established international media, specifically BBC and VOA, is this: they are lazy. They have a virtual monopoly on TV broadcasting in Persian in a time that politics is everything in Iran, yet the political programs that they are producing are easy entertainment - just talking heads giving comments on the latest developments. ... A gigantic entity like BBC Persian should make fantastic investigation journalism from this question. VOA should think, 'this can become the Iranian version of Watergate.' They have the financial resources to invest in intelligent investigation journalism on this. We are almost a year past the elections, and the Iranian public has no more knowledge than a year ago about this. The curiosity, the will to investigate is almost zero. BBC and VOA are obsessed with producing and have lost the intellectual spirit to make slow journalism."

Deutsche Welle content provides relief for Namibian broadcaster.

Posted: 17 May 2010   Print   Send a link
New Era (Windhoek), 17 May 2010: Scharl Moller at West Coast FM in Swakopmund, Namibia, "tells how gruelling, but satisfying his life as a radio personality is. He gets up at 05h00 to get behind the microphone by 06h00 where he stays until 14h00. 'Luckily we have English and German programmes supplied by Deutsche Welle, which we’ve included for that time slot. After 2 o’clock I just shift from the microphone to the office where my administrative duties like marketing and compiling of news bulletins for the afternoon show starts. My work never stops.'"

Hard launch Monday (today) for new VOA English regional news programs (updated).

Posted: 17 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The "hard launch" of the new VOA English regional news programs for Asia and the Middle East is Monday, 17 May. See this schedule, an exclusive service of this website, because such a schedule is not available at voanews.com.
   The shortwave schedule for East and South Asia is rather complicated, with frequencies available some hours weekdays only, other hours weekends only. The second evening edition of Crossroads Asia and International Edition, at 1305-1400 UTC, has no frequencies, but this hour is a repeat of 1205-1300 UTC.
   No frequencies have been assigned yet for Middle East Monitor and International Edition at 1700-1800 and 1900-2000 UTC. All of the Asian and Middle East broadcasts are available as an audio stream at voanews.com. Click on Global Live at the top of the home page.

   Update: VOA press release, 17 May 2010: "Voice of America has unveiled a dynamic new lineup of interactive radio programs and Web features aimed at expanding its English-speaking audience around the world. Three new radio programs, Daybreak Asia, Crossroads Asia, and Middle East Monitor, focus on key developments in each region, with in-depth features, more newsmaker interviews and dynamic interaction with listeners, viewers and website visitors. Another program, International Edition, provides lively, fast-paced world news coverage, and American Café brings you stories about life in the United States."

Trial related to 2006 murder of Radio Free Asia GC begins today.

Posted: 17 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Washington Examiner, 17 May 2010, Scott McCabe: "Today the government will set out to prove that Joseph Price, 39, Victor Zaborsky, 44, and Dylan Ward, 39, tampered with the crime scene and obstructed justice to prevent authorities from solving the murder of [Robert] Wone, 32. The housemates each face a maximum of 38 years in prison if convicted. ... The now-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder represented Wone's wife, Kathy, as she pleaded for the killer to come forward. On Aug. 2, 2006, Wone, 32, general counsel for Radio Free Asia, worked late and decided to stay at the $1.2 million three-story Dupont Circle home of Price, his college chum."
Washington Post, 17 May 2010, Neely Tucker: "[W]e bring you a Web site called Who Murdered Robert Wone? (http://www.whomurderedrobertwone.com) -- a new-media instant encyclopedia of the ongoing investigation and prosecution (though not on murder charges) of the mysterious slaying of Wone, a Washington lawyer."
   Follow trial developments in near real time at twitter.com/wonetrial. See previous post about same subject.

Other (not much) shortwave in the news.

Posted: 17 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Southgate Amateur Radio Club, 17 May 2010, Andy Foad: "The Moscow Coup Attempt - The Failure of Shortwave Radio. This [video] piece of concept art may well have different meanings amongst its viewers. However its basis is the mix of genuine Cold War spy number station recordings set to moving video footage and music. It also has a strong resonance to those of us that entered radio via the SWL route, with spy number transmissions being de rigeur, the HF bands full of propaganda stations, and in particular the 7Mhz ham band being abused for the same purpose." With links.
   CommonDreams.org, 16 May 2010: "Dan Roberts has produced The Shortwave Report off-the-grid since 1997. He demonstrated the basic equipment he uses to share international perspectives gleaned from shortwave transmissions. His program airs on dozens of community radio affiliates in North America." See, for example, The Shortwave Report, 13 May 2010.

Religious broadcaster HCJB installs shortwave transmitters in the Central African Republic.

Posted: 17 May 2010   Print   Send a link
HCJB Global News Update, 10-14 May 2010: "Imagine living in a country where you can’t access the Internet, watch television, read newspapers or even receive mail. Except in Bangui, the capital city of the Central African Republic (C.A.R.), that’s what life is like for most of the country’s 4.5 million residents. Their lifeline to the rest of the world? Radio. People in C.A.R., a country about the size of Texas, depend on radio broadcasts to keep informed. Almost every village has a radio, and some have more than one. The sets are affordable, costing as little as US$6, usually coming from countries such as Nigeria and Niger. The radios typically have FM, shortwave and medium-wave bands. ... [In 2005, the] Integrated Community Development International (ICDI), a partner of HCJB Global, was granted permission to open the country’s first privately owned shortwave radio station, Radio ICDI. ... Last month HCJB Global engineers returned to C.A.R. to put in two additional regional shortwave radio stations in Boali, similar to the station installed in 2007. One of the new stations will help extend the broadcast hours of the existing ICDI station into the nighttime. Each station only works well during a portion of each day because of how shortwave signals travel through the atmosphere." -- I assume "station" means transmitter. HCJB's one-kilowatt TB 1000 is a fixed-frequency transmitter, hence the need for a new "station" to operate on a lower nighttime frequency.

Recalling the Soviet Information Bureau of World War II.

Posted: 16 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, 14 May 2010: "On May 15th 1945 Radio Moscow broadcast the last communiqué of the Soviet Information Bureau. It was quite brief. The famous announcer Yuri Levitan, who topped the Third Reich’s enemy list, said that all German officers and men, taken prisoner on all fronts, had been registered. The Soviet Information Bureau was set up on the third day of the Great Patriotic War, namely on June 24th 1941. The Bureau staff-members were charged with briefing the Soviet people in the printed press and by radio on the war fighting, and on developments on the international scene and at home. ... It took the Soviet Information Bureau authors some time to get used to foreign press requirements, namely articles were to be short, to the point and deal with the latest developments. At first the Bureau was short of experts in literary translation into foreign languages. But the problem was eventually settled."

State Department funding of Global Internet Freedom Consortium sparks discussion about anti-censorship tools.

Posted: 16 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 12 May 2010, John Pomfret: "The State Department has decided to fund a group run mainly by practitioners of Falun Gong, a Buddhist-like sect long considered Enemy No. 1 by the Chinese government, to provide software to skirt Internet censorship across the globe. State Department officials recently called the group, the Global Internet Freedom Consortium, offering it $1.5 million, according to Shiyu Zhou, one of the group's founders. A State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the offer. ... The initial goal of GIFC was to allow practitioners of Falun Gong access to the teachings of Li Hongzhi, the sect's leader, who is believed to live in Queens, N.Y. But by last year Internet users in other countries where governments censor the Internet had begun using its software -- Freegate and Ultrasurf. Falun Gong also put ads encouraging people to join the sect on its software download page. ... Ethan Zuckerman, a senior researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, GIFC's software works well. 'They've built some good tools, he said. But Zuckerman worries [that] the tools that GIFC provides are employed by, at most, 5 percent of Internet users, even in places such as China or Iran where the Web is tightly controlled. 'What do you do for the other 95 percent?' he asked. ... There's a danger of overstating the benefits of this solution. You just can't circumvent your way around censorship.'"
   FierceGovernmentIT, 13 May 2010, David Perera: "In a follow up interview with FierceGovernmentIT, Zuckerman said GIFC is relying on security by obscurity when it comes to its software code, unlike the developers behind proxy applications such as Psiphon and Tor. 'You're generally strongest by publishing the code, or at least your algorithm or design for evading censorship, because then the public can review it, figure out what might be wrong with it, and then offer any constructive changes,' he said. All proxies, except for Tor, also allow the proxy administrator to observe your Internet habits, he said. Because all proxy traffic must run through proxy servers, system administrators might also have to block some high bandwidth traffic because they themselves lack bandwidth, Zuckerman added. Proxies are also only a partial solution to Internet censorship, Zuckerman added. 'They're difficult to run and people have to chose to use them, and most people don't chose to use them.'"
   Shanghaiist, 14 May 2010, Marta Cooper: "[A]s C. Custer over at China/Divide argues, the move is not a particularly clever one on the States' part. By allying with a group affiliated to a sect the Chinese government sees as a major threat to one-party rule, the US may well trigger Beijing's further rejection of Internet freedom. The 'one step forward, ten steps back' theme of Sino-US relations continues."
   VOA News, 14 May 2010, Peter Simpson: "International pressure groups welcomed the proposed funding, however.And China Human Rights Defender's Wang [Songling] says more money should be given to Chinese groups to combat censorship. But she also says the U.S. government should seek to stop those Western internet technology companies that develop and sell the Chinese government internet censorship software. 'I think this is a more important act for the U.S. government in terms of helping human rights defenders' she said. Wang says human rights concerns cross all departments including trade, and the U.S. should act now before China becomes economically stronger and harder to persuade."

The start of Japanese international broadcasting, 75 years ago.

Posted: 16 May 2010   Print   Send a link
"75 YEARS AGO. Sunday, May 12, 1935. The Japan Broadcasting Association [forerunner of the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, or NHK] has decided to start a regular international broadcasting service from June 1 for an epoch-making event in Japan's annals of radio broadcasting. The projected service will begin at 10 a.m. every day and last for an hour. The program will consist of news announcements in English and Japanese and entertainment numbers characteristic of Japan, which will be broadcast to the outside world over a wavelength of 1400 kilocycles. The broadcasting will not be made for domestic listeners. On the first day of broadcasting, Premier Admiral Keisuke Okada and Foreign Minister Koki Hirota will address the world, following which a military band will play. On the second day, popular singers Katsutaro, Ichimaru and Kiyozo will perform. It is understood that the Broadcasting Association has earmarked $70,000 for the service this year. The new international broadcasting differs from similar attempts so far in that no other radio stations will be depended upon. The forwarding station at Nazaki [Ibaraki Prefecture] of the International Wireless Company will pick up the electric wave and forward it to America and Europe. Mr. [Charles] Hisao Yoshii, 28, who was born in America, has been employed to make news announcements in English." -- The "wavelength" (actually frequency) of 1400 kilocycles (now known as kilohertz) is in the medium wave band. The would usually limit reception to nearby countries of northeastern Asia. The "forwarding station" was perhaps a shortwave communications transmitter.

BBC World Service Trust drama completes 100 episodes on Indian FM radio stations.

Posted: 16 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Radioandmusic.com, 16 May 2010: "The first ever FM radio drama series from India, ‘Life Gulmohar Style’, will completes 100 episodes of its broadcast later this month. Produced for All India Radio’s FM networks by BBC World Service Trust, the series addresses the aspirations and concerns of modern women in urban India. The 156-part show is also the longest-running radio drama on the Indian FM Networks. The 100th episode will be aired on 26 May at 7:30 pm from the five stations of AIR FM Rainbow in Delhi, Mumbai, Jallandhar, Lucknow and Kanpur. ... The drama serial is the outcome of extensive research conducted by the BBC World Service Trust that examined how the media can be used to address the rising rates of sex selective abortion in India."

Thailand violence: France 24 reporter wounded; VOA reporter witnesses shooting of general (updated).

Posted: 16 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio France International, 14 May 2010: "A reporter from RFI's sister station France 24 has been shot and wounded in the leg in Bangkok, where Thai troops have fired on Red Shirt protesters. Nelson Rand is the English-language correspondent for the channel."
      Voice of America press release, 13 May 2010: "The shooting of a controversial Thai general who has sided with the country's Red Shirt anti-government protest movement was witnessed first-hand Thursday by a Voice of America journalist. VOA Bangkok Correspondent Daniel Schearf’s description of the shooting at the start of a Thai government crackdown on the protesters can be heard at www.VOANews.com. Schearf was just meters from Major General Khattiya Sawasdipol, also known as Seh Daeng, in Central Bangkok when the shot rang out and the general slumped to the ground with a head wound. ... Voice of America is providing extensive coverage of the situation, including at our Thai Service website, http://www1.voanews.com/thai/news/."
   Update: Calgary Sun, 15 May 2010: "The TV reporter from Calgary says he is happy to be alive after being shot three times during unrest in Thailand. And his father here at home said he wouldn’t be surprised if his son still chooses to stay in the country he loves despite the terrifying ordeal. Nelson Rand, 34, a reporter for France 24 TV network, was shot while covering clashes between protestors and troops in Bangkok Friday." See also CBC News, 15 May 2010.
   "An injured Canadian journalist working for France 24 television is still alive, doctor said on Saturday night. Nelson Serge Rand was shot in the leg when he covered clashes between troops and the 'red-shirts' protesters in the Thai capital Bangkok on Friday. Local media said that he died of injury." Xinhua, 16 May 2010.

VOA's Steve Herman recommends Twitter correspondents providing news from Bangkok.

Posted: 15 May 2010   Print   Send a link
twitter.com/W7VOA: "Good to follow on ground in Bangkok are: @georgebkk @brianbkk @sarasidnercnn @Thaivisa @terryfrd @veen_NT @BKKApologist #Thailand"
   VOA News, 15 May 2010, Daniel Schearf: "Street fighting continues in the Thai capital, Bangkok, as anti-government protesters try to push back soldiers who have surrounded their camp. At least 22 people were killed in the last two days and at least 170 wounded."
   Radio Free Asia, 13 May 2010, RFA staff in Bangkok: "'It is an insurgency warfare that will be developed into civil warfare. The mobs are flaring and other demonstrators from other provinces will join in,' Maj. Gen. Khattiya Sawatdiphol, known as Seh Daeng, told Radio Free Asia in one of his last interviews before the shooting." See previous post about same subject.

Alhurra derided again.

Posted: 15 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Salon, 12 May 2010, Joe Conason: "Hurting more than helping is Al-Hurra, the official Arab-language broadcasting outlet sponsored by the U.S. government -- or at least such is the jaundiced view of the overwhelming majority of the journalists, academics, officials and business executives attending the annual Arab Media Forum in Dubai this week. A panel that included Arab-American Institute president James Zogby, Al-Jazeera international news director Saleh Najm, Georgetown University professor Adel Iskandar, Jorn De Cock, Middle East editor of the Belgian daily De Standaard, and me examined the Al-Jazeera effect on Wednesday afternoon at the conference, sponsored by the Dubai Press Club. Although we never reached unanimity on the successes and shortcomings of the Qatar-based international news channel -- or of Al-Jazeera English, its sister operation -- there was broad agreement that the U.S.-branded Al-Hurra has been a very costly mistake. According to Zogby, who quoted surveys of broadcast viewers in the region, the estimated penetration for Al-Hurra is less than 1 percent, a number he set in stark relief by noting that the network has spent roughly half a billion dollars so far."
   Any citatation of surveys to condemn Alhurra must be very specific as to locations and methodologies. See also Radio Sawa and Alhurra TV: Performance Update, available at the BBG website. It was never realistic to expect Alhurra or any non-Arab Arabic-language channel to compete head-on with Al Jazeera or Al Arabiya. What is important is if Alhurra is attracting a useful percentage of Arab viewers, and if that audience is distinguished by quality as well as quantity. Also, how well is Alhurra stacking up against the other non-Arab channels such as BBC Arabic and the Arabic language efforts of France 24, Deutsche Welle, EuroNews, Russia Today, China's CCTV, Iran's Al Alam, Turkey's TRT, and others? I understand that a new batch of data has just come in from Arab countries, so maybe we will have some answers.
   manIC blog, 12 May 2010, Laura McGinnis: "Arab audiences are frequently treated as objects to receive messages, as opposed to independent agents capable of shaping and responding to ideas." -- A very valid point, to which I would add they are also capable of deciding which station they will tune to. I think the managers of Alhurra and Radio Sawa are aware of this, hence their efforts to produce programs and formats that correspond with the preferences of modern-day Arab audiences.
   Al Bawaba, 12 May 2010: "Today, there are three Western satellite channels transmitting in the Arabic language round the clock. These include the BBC Arabic from the UK, Al Hurra from the US, Russia Today from Russia, as well as Al Alam from Iran. In addition, there are several other channels transmitting in Arabic for a limited number of hours daily, including channels from China, South Korea, the EU, France, Germany and Holland. Representing the Arab world, Al Jazeera International remains the only English language channel transmitting 24/7 at the global level. In light of such observations, panelists [at the Arab Media Forum in Dubai] examined the prominence of Al Jazeera International in the English language space; open free-to-air and constrained cable transmissions, as well as Arabic content in Al Jazeera International. The need for reaching out to new world power houses such as China, India and Brazil, and if so, who must take the initiative were also analysed at the session."
   MEMRI, 13 May 2010: "In an article in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai, Saudi journalist Nadine Al-Budair, a presenter on the Arabic-language American TV channel Al-Hurra, attacked Saudi liberals for hiding or obscuring their liberal views out of fear of the authorities and the extremists. She also wrote that many of those who do claim to be liberals in Saudi Arabia do so for their own personal benefit, not out of real conviction."

Well, yes, I suppose if you deny that you're dead, you would do it "strongly."

Posted: 15 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Garowe Online, 13 May 2010: "The deputy commander of Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), Abdikarin Sheikh Muse says he still alive and continuing with the fighting to free Ethiopian-controlled Somali region. Speaking to Voice of America’s Somali service, Muse strongly denied reports from Ethiopian government that he was killed alongside his fighters by special police force in in Ogaden's town of Dhagahbuur."

What Botswana and southwestern Ohio have in common. Hint: VOA.

Posted: 15 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Dayton Daily News, 14 May 2010: "Fred Morton, who grew up in Vandalia [Ohio] but teaches and lives in Botswana ... held a talk Thursday, May 13, on behalf of Middfest at Miami University’s Voice of America Learning Center. Botswana is the featured country this year." -- I wonder if the connection between the speaker's venue and Botswana was noted. The VOA Learning Center is located at the site of the old VOA Bethany shortwave transmitting station. Botswana is host to a still-existing VOA shortwave (and medium wave) relay. In fact, VOA Bethany, which included Africa among its targets, was closed in part because of relay facilities available on that continent, including Botswana.

VOA News recalls the Jazz Ambassadors.

Posted: 15 May 2010   Print   Send a link
VOA News, 13 May 2010, Amra Alirejsovic: "One of the most successful U.S. public diplomacy efforts of the late 20th century was a program known as the Jazz Ambassadors, and music today remains an important part of U.S. cultural outreach. ... A U.S.-government-sponsored program sent jazz ambassadors around the world - among them such well-known musicians as Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Dave Brubeck. From the 1950's to the 1970's, they toured more than 35 countries in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Their music dramatically influenced the perception of the United States, promoting a positive view of America and easing Cold-War tensions. ... [A Meridian International Center] exhibit, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, will travel to countries around the world over the next three years. It contains 100 photographs from 22 years of the Jazz Ambassadors program."

Why I'm skeptical of anything called a "youth program."

Posted: 15 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 11 May 2010, Rowayda Faris: "RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq has just launched a weekly youth program, 'Shabab al-Nahrein' (The Youth Of Two Rivers ). The program takes on taboo issues in Iraqi society, particularly those among the country's booming younger generation (60 percent of the Iraqi population is under the age of 25). This week, host Rowayda Faris talks about women's education with guests and callers from across Iraq." With audio: "Host Rowayda Faris talks about the program (in English)."
   I'm sure Shabab al-Nahrein is a fine program that will have positive impact in Iraq. I flinch, however, at the mention of "youth program." From the 1960s onward, I've heard many youth programs on several international radio stations, particularly those of eastern Europe. They would go something like this...
   "We present our weekly youth program, 'Youth Program.' This week, the Central Committee of the Party announced great progress in meeting the five-year economic plan. The youth of our country congratulate the Central Committee! Thank you for listening to 'Youth Program' and please tune in again next week."

RFE/RL president interviewed by Tajik TV station SMT.

Posted: 15 May 2010   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL Off Mic blog, 14 May 2010, Elizabeth Ganshert and Taylor Smoot: "'Radio stations do not have the ability to change governments,' [RFE/RL president Jeffrey Gedmin] says. 'In Tajikistan for example, we can provide a source of accurate reliable information, but if we do our job well, we can provide a model of professional journalistic standards for other media outlets as well.' Rather than provide opportunity for pro-American politics, this goal supports the underlying assumption that, 'when free people are free to choose, they will choose decent accountable government over dictatorship virtually every time.'" With link to video.

Twenty-first century statecraft and "the difficulty of disentangling state-sponsored intellectual freedom from state-sponsored propaganda."

Posted: 15 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The Economist, Babbage, 13 May 2010, B.G.: "America's State Department has been making a push around what it calls '21st-century statecraft'. Hillary Clinton launched it with a speech in January. ... I have to admit that I'm nonplussed by the idea of 21st-century statecraft. ... The problem is that by adopting the Cold War's clarity of purpose, Ms Clinton is falling into some of its traps. Radio Free Europe, at its inception, was funded largely by the CIA. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it does point to the difficulty of disentangling state-sponsored intellectual freedom from state-sponsored propaganda. If a state provides the physical means of free communication (broadcast towers in the cold war, proxy servers now), it's difficult to resist the temptation of spoiling that freedom with the state's own message, however well-intentioned. And this matters; dissidents seen as too close to America lose their authority." -- The BBC and other public broadcasters of western Europe have generally been able to maintain their reputations for journalistic freedom, despite state funding, or state-mandated license fees. This comes through decades of demonstrating that freedom in the nature of their news coverage. The occasional well-publicized spat with the funding government about news coverage is also helpful.

Azerbaijan considers licensing websites, including online radio and television.

Posted: 15 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Eurasianet.org, 13 May 2010, Mina Muradova: "A game of free-speech cat-and-mouse is moving into another media sphere in Azerbaijan, where officials in Baku are mulling the introduction of a licensing system for online radio and TV operations. Media rights advocates are decrying licensing plans as a means of control over the free flow of information. Citing claims about Internet users’ alleged 'illegal activities,' Minister of Communication and Information Technologies Ali Abbasov on April 17 called for the licensing of websites, including radio, TV and online 'commercial services.' ... The website for Radio Azadliq, the Azerbaijani service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, has also become an increasingly popular source for news. The station lost its ability to broadcast on Azerbaijan’s domestic airwaves in 2009." See also Reporters sans frontières, 6 May 2010.

"One can listen to ... the Voice of Russia in any language at any point in the world where there is cellular communications."

Posted: 15 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, 13 May 2010: "The Voice of Russia broadcasting company, which is taking part in the [Svyaz-Expokomm-2010] exhibition for the first time together with Russia’s leading mass media companies, presents the 'Mobile Voice of Russia' project. This makes it possible to listen to programmes of the company using a cellular phone. One can listen to the programmes of the Voice of Russia in any language at any point in the world where there is cellular communications." -- Really? Unless the mobile device has internet access (and VOR is not blocked), access to VOR would require the cooperation of the mobile provider. Or have advances in the technology passed me, the rotary phone user, by?

As Dorothy told the Scarecrow, "I think I'll miss you most of all" (updated).

Posted: 15 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Press Gazette, 12 May 2010, Dominic Ponsford: "BBC director general Mark Thompson insisted that despite the end of the British Empire and the Cold War, the BBC’s international news operations are as important now as ever. He was speaking at Chatham House in London, home of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, as a new Conservative-led government was formed which will look closely at funding of all public services, including the BBC. ... He noted research the corporation has carried out in Kenya, Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey. It found that when the public was asked how much they would miss the BBC, CNN International, Voice of America and Al-Jazeera, in all four countries respondents said they would miss the BBC most. He added that 80 per cent of people asked said that the BBC made them think more positively about the UK. He said: 'The BBC’s motto is 'Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation’ the idea being that access to news, information and debate about different countries and cultures can ultimately help foster mutual understanding and tolerance."
   BBC Press Office, 11 May 2010, transcript of Mark Thompson's speech to Chatham House: "I ran the BBC's news operations in Beijing during much of the Tiananmen Square crisis – and when the American networks arrived, it was like watching a series of carrier groups sailing into harbour. Today it's a different story. When Benazir Bhutto was assassinated a few years ago in Islamabad, the US networks reported the story from Baghdad, because that was the closest place in which they had a correspondent. 'There's much less call for international news,' one network executive told me shortly afterwards: 'Apart from anything else, our audiences find it rather dispiriting.'" -- Recommended reading. This speech covers, and argues for, many aspects of BBC international broadcasting.
   Update: Brandchannel.com, 13 May 2010, Sheila Shayon: "It's a clever move by Thompson to defend the BBC's global coverage (and budget) by positioning the independent media organization as not only influential but crucial in shaping worldwide attitudes about Britain – a de facto ambassador without representing British foreign policy. ... Thompson, naturally, has research to back up his case about the BBC as Britain's branding agent. He commissioned a poll of 500 consumers and 'opinion makers' in four countries with the conclusion that four out of five opinion-makers said the BBC made them think more positively about Britain – the highest influencer, beating the British Armed Forces, Premier League soccer, overseas aid and the Royal family. Thompson defended using public funds: 'In a world where in-depth international reporting is increasingly restricted to a handful of agencies and to news providers who are directly under the influence of sovereign governments and who have no tradition of editorial independence, the BBC's journalism, its ability to put people on the ground and keep them there over years, is more, not less, important than it used to be.'"

BBC World Service has been off Israeli cable more than a month due to "technical problem."

Posted: 15 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Ha'aretz, 14 May 2010: "The BBC pledged this month to solve the technical problem causing its international radio station from no longer being available in Israel through cable. More than a month ago, the BBC World Service's local cable broadcasts suddenly stopped, much to the surprise of the HOT cable company, which used to transmit the program. 'Technicians are investigating the problem and we hope to restore normal service as soon as possible,' a BBC spokesman in London told Anglo File recently. Questions for further clarification have since remained unanswered. Receiving the signal from a satellite, HOT is the only company that used to broadcast BBC World Service in Israel 24 hours a day through a cable signal, which connects directly to an FM radio through an outlet. ... The station can still be heard on the Internet or through AM radio." -- Is BBCWS perhaps on one of the satellites affected by Iranian jamming?

Sony radio awards for BBC Asian Network and World Service.

Posted: 15 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Birmingham Post, 13 May 2010: "The campaign to keep the Birmingham-based BBC Asian Network on air received a boost at this week’s Sony Radio Awards where the station scooped gold for its speech output. Nihal’s show on weekday afternoons took the top prize in the Best Speech Programme category, beating off stiff competition from the likes of BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service. ... The Asian Network, along with BBC 6 Music, looks set to face the axe by the end of next year after director general Mark Thompson recommended their closure following a review earlier this year." -- The BBC Asian Network is for the South Asian immigrant/descendant community inside the UK.
   BBC World Service press release, 11 May 2010: "BBC World Service won an array of awards at the Sony Radio Academy Awards 2010 in London, with Lyse Doucet scooping News Journalist of the Year and Newshour winning Best News & Current Affairs Programme. The awards were held in London on 10 May 2010." Doucet also won a Peabody: see previous post.

Latest salvo in VOA Persian broadcaster's harassment suit (updated again).

Posted: 15 May 2010   Print   Send a link
WorldNetDaily, 11 May 2010, Bob Unruh: "A manager at Persian News Network, a division of Voice of America, has family links to the elite ruling class in Iran – and the bias that goes with that, according to a lawyer for a woman suing VOA for harassment after she expressed her pro-Iranian- freedom perspective. The claims have emerged in a lawsuit filed against VOA seeking $150 million in damages for a woman who was dismissed from her post following her expression of support for freedom for Iranians. The case was filed against Voice of America alleging the managers at its Persian News Network knowingly advocated anti-American sentiment in their programs and then used sexual harassment to drive out an anchor who objected." -- In a situation such as this, we would look for conservative journals, conservative think tanks, and conservative politicians to jump on the bandwagon. So far, that horizon seems to be quiet. See previous post about same subject.
   Letter to WorldNetDaily from VOA director Danforth W. Austin: "The Voice of America strongly rejects the allegations in Mr. Bob Unruh’s May 12 article: 'Lawyer accuses VOA manager of pro-Iranian bias.' The Voice of America has a firm commitment to its Congressionally-approved charter that requires its programming to be accurate, objective and comprehensive. Thus, we reject the article’s claim that one of the editors in VOA’s Persian News Network (PNN) is biased in favor of the government of The Islamic Republic of Iran. The claim is not only unsubstantiated, it is false. How is it false? To begin with, the PNN program Mr. Unruh’s article cites, Parazit, is a popular satirical show. During the segment in question, the show poked fun at the absurdity of PNN’s alleged bias toward Iran. At no time did the program side with the 'mullahs in Iran.' It is also untrue that the PNN editor’s father is a 'mullah in Iran' who sides with the current leadership. His father is a retired professor of Islamic Studies; he was never a practicing clergyman. In fact, he was forced to retire after the 1979 Islamic revolution." -- So far not published by WorldNetDaily, but this was...
   WorldNetDaily, 14 May 2010, Larry Klayman: When Elham Sataki "gets to Voice of America, Ellie sees that VOA is not what she or the other Persian broadcasters at PNN had thought. The agency, managed by people who have little regard for VOA's mission to promote the values of the United States and freedom in Iran, treat their professional broadcasters like circus animals. Either they jump, like performing circus dogs, through the hoops they want – which is to kiss the derriere of the Iranian radical Islamic mullahs in Tehran – or they will be destroyed. In fact, the father of the senior managing editor of PNN, Ali Sajjadi, is a mullah, and he is forced to admit as much when on a recent television show. His anti-American, pro-radical Islamic bent infects the programming of the entire network and subverts the mission of VOA."
   Update: American Thinker, 15 May 2010, Pedro Primavera: "Take, for instance, Iran. We will never know what type of contact Obama made with a series of letters since taking the oath of office. We do know that he has done virtually nothing to foster and aid resistance against the regime. Voice of America, a vital tool in the Cold War, is virtually nonexistent -- if anything, it is working against freedom there. Iranians refer to it as Voice of Iran. Obama is contorting himself into the most compromising positions, and with himself, the American people. The only problem is that the Iranian regime and the rest of the world are laughing at this foolish exercise." -- I include this item because it is VOA in the media, but recent criticism of VOA Persian News Network is over the top.
   National Interest, 14 May 2010, Ted Galen Carpenter (via Cato Institute): "For instance, when Congress appropriated $75 million to promote regime change, the clerics immediately accused democracy advocates of being on the U.S. payroll. The reality was that $30 million went to fund Voice of America, and most of the remainder, according to Ganji, was absorbed by various U.S. bureaucracies. Yet democratic factions ended up being viewed with suspicion by fellow Iranians as though they had actually taken money from the American government."

Australia's SBS dumps BBC World Service for Eurovision Song Contest -- until 11 June.

Posted: 14 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Sydney Morning Herald, 14 May 2010, Glenn Mulcaster: "Public broadcaster SBS [Special Broadcasting Service] and Melbourne commercial broadcaster Pacific Star have launched music stations this month, the first anniversary of full-time radio broadcasts on the DAB+ format. ... SBS recently dumped its feed of the BBC World Service to run a 24-hour Eurovision song contest station on digital radio, leading up to the finals, to be broadcast on SBS TV at the end of the month. The temporary station will run until June 11."

Will BBC character do to Auntie what he reportedly said to do to your mother?

Posted: 14 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The Sun, 14 May 2010: "A telly viewer in China rang the BBC claiming he heard a character in hit kids' show In The Night Garden say: 'F*** your mother', we can reveal. The gibberish talk of one of the tumbly, pepper-pot Tombliboos - Unn, Ooo and Eee - made it sound like the toy had sworn in Mandarin. ... 'Mandarin is all about tonality so you can end up saying something quite different to what you actually mean if you get it wrong.' ... Chinese channel CCTV bought the show from the BBC last year. Executives had the narration translated from English into Mandarin, including the characters' names, but left the characters noises as they were, which is where the problem arose."
   BBC Worldwide press release, 13 May 2010: "BBC Worldwide Channels has inked a deal to launch CBeebies in South Korea for the first time. The channel, targeted at pre-schoolers from 0 – 6 years will be available on KT's IPTV service, QOOK TV on its basic tier starting 15 May 2010, reaching more than 1.2 million of the platform's subscribers. ... Some of the top-rated programmes on CBeebies include In the Night Garden, a calming live action series from the makers of Teletubbies, which has won 'Best Pre-School Live Action Series' at the BAFTA Children's Awards for three years running. ... Besides South Korea, CBeebies is available in Australia, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, USA, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India and Malaysia."

Brazil considering Digital Radio Mondiale for domestic shortwave.

Posted: 14 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 12 May 2010, Carlos Eduardo Behrensdorf: "Although tests and consultations are ongoing, Brazilian regulators are positioning to decided upon a digital radio standard for the country within a year. ... While AM and tropical-band shortwave remain important in large swaths of Brazil, DRM [Digital Radio Mondiale] may be better positioned than iBiquity's HD Radio AM for these wavebands, according to anecdotal comments on Brazilian digital radio message boards, blogs and press accounts. Yet HD Radio has more receivers on the market than does DRM. If regulators opt for DRM on AM and for HD Radio on FM, there is a concern that the rollout could be delayed by the manufacturing time necessary to produce dual-standard receivers, according to these accounts. IBiquity publicly has supported the use of DRM30 for shortwave services in Brazil. It also supports the concept of multi-system tuners capable of receiving both HD Radio on AM/FM and DRM on shortwave. Brazil has a strong electronics manufacturing sector, so whichever standard or mix of standards is decided upon, acceptable receivers are expected to be able to be produced domestically." See previous post about same subject.

VOACAP shortwave propagation program now available online.

Posted: 14 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The popular VOACAP (Voice of America Coverage Analysis Program) is now available online, free, at online.voacap.com. In the 1980s, VOA engineers improved a program developed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to select good shortwave frequencies given transmitter and target location, time of day, and season. VOACAP has been widely employed by other international broadcasters, radio amateurs, and other users of the high-frequency (HF) (shortwave) spectrum.

Radio Kuwait no longer transmitting on amateur radio shortwave frequencies.

Posted: 14 May 2010   Print   Send a link
American Radio Relay League, 12 May 2010: On 12 April, radio amateurs began noticing Radio Kuwait broadcasting on 7150 and 7190 kHz. This is within the 7100-7200 kHz segment whose allocation was switched from broadcasting to amateur radio in March 2009. The International Amateur Radio Union "Monitoring System has a coordinator in the State of Kuwait, Faisal Al-jmi, 9K2RR. He contacted Radio Kuwait and informed them of the many amateurs asking them to cease transmissions inside our bands. On April 19, Al-Ajmi sent word that he was very pleased to inform everyone that the General Manager of Engineering for Kuwait Radio had informed him that transmissions on both 7150 and 7190 had been suspended."

Obituary: Frank Scott, director of VOA Europe.

Posted: 14 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Omaha World-Herald, 13 May 2010: "Frank Scott, whose broadcasting career took him from Omaha to Germany and who once was punched through a window during a barroom brawl in a John Wayne western, has died at age 77. ... Scott was an early president of the Omaha Press Club and later its manager, after being appointed by President Ronald Reagan to head Voice of America’s European operation." -- Frank Scott was appointed VOA director of programs in 1982, and later served in Munich as director of VOA Europe. See previous post for some history of VOA Europe. An aircheck of VOA Europe is available on this page.

Deutsche Welle reporter wears a niqab for a day in Cologne.

Posted: 14 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle, 11 May 2010: "What is it like to live as a woman who covers her face with a veil in Germany? ... Chamselassil Ayari, a reporter for Deutsche Welle's Arab language service, wore a Muslim full-body covering garment [niqab] for one day. Her experiment begins on a sunny spring Saturday afternoon in Cologne's busiest shopping street." See also reader reaction.
   RFE/RL News, 4 May 2010: "In the past year, the number of Tajik women wearing the niqab has grown considerably -- with the trend most evident among women in their late teens or early 20s."
   BBC News, 14 May 2010, Shaimaa Khalil: "Fashion is a form of self-expression. It's all about experimenting with looks and, in many cases, attracting attention. The Islamic headscarf, or hijab, is exactly the opposite. It's about modesty and attracting as little attention as possible. However, a growing number of Muslim women are successfully blending the two. ... They are known as Hijabistas."

Human Rights Watch researcher calls for more concerted EU action on internet freedom in Iran and elsewhere.

Posted: 13 May 2010   Print   Send a link
EuropeanVoice.com, 12 May 2010, Faraz Sanei, Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch: "Earlier this year, EU member states condemned Iran's jamming of Eutelsat signals carrying Persian-language programming from the BBC and Deutsche Welle into Iran, and European Parliament members criticised Nokia-Siemens for aiding the government crack-down. The EU is currently drafting guidelines for ‘best practices' for EU corporations dealing with governments such as Iran's. But the struggle to promote freedom of information in Iran requires a more concerted policy. Companies should adopt standards, such as those articulated in the Global Network Initiative (GNI), to safeguard rights online. Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! are the only large corporate members of the GNI and no European company has joined so far. The EU and its member governments should insist that companies safeguard human rights through voluntary and mandatory measures, such as pressing European companies to join the GNI and considering legislation or regulation that would require companies to safeguard human rights. They should also take the lead in pushing the international community to adopt a comprehensive policy on internet freedom worldwide. The EU also needs to help Iranian civil society to unblock existing channels of communication, or create new ones."

Flash drives are a workaround for music banned in Iranian taxis.

Posted: 13 May 2010   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL Persian Letters, 11 May 2010, Golnaz Esfandiari: "Rasul Abbasi, the director-general for transportation and traffic coordination of Iran's municipalities, has told the Borna news agency that taxi drivers are not allowed to play banned music in their taxis. Abbasi said that if they did so, they would be dealt with according to the law, which could lead to the cancellation of their taxi permit and confiscation of their cars. ... RFE/RL's Radio Farda broadcaster Elahe Ravanshad asked Moshtaq, a taxi driver in Tehran, what he thinks about Abbasi's comments. ' ... When a driver wants to listen to his favorite music, he would do anything. A flash drive is most convenient for them as it doesn't take more space than a key; they would connect it to the stereo in their car anytime they want and listen to their favorite music.' Most forms of Western music and Iranian pop music are banned in Iran. Yet many Iranians listen to banned music and CDs of banned music, from rock to hip hop and Los Angeles-produced Iranian pop music, are widely available on the black market."

TV2MORO IPTV service for diasporas adds Muslim and Coptic channels.

Posted: 13 May 2010   Print   Send a link
TV2MORO press release, 11 May 2010: "TV2MORO announced today the launch of 12 new Arabic channels to complement it's already extensive bouquet of Arabic programming. One of the most exciting launches is the introduction of a bouquet of Muslim channels that caters to the entire Muslim family, including children. With cultural, religious, and family programming aimed at promoting tolerance and moderation, the package includes channels such as Al Majd Holy Quran, Al Majd Al Hadeeth Al Nabawy, Al Majd Space Channel, Al Nas, Al Hafez, and Al Azhary TV. More channels are planned for Q2 and Q3 of this year. Equally as exciting is the launch of a Coptic Bouquet of channels that will finally satisfy the demand for such channels for Coptic and other Eastern Orthodox and Arabic Christian communities throughout North America. The channels are Coptic TV (CTV) , Coptic Youth Channel (CYC), Logos 1 and Logos 2. CTV, the official channel of his Holiness Pope Shenouda the Third the cornerstone of the package, which is rich not only in content from Egypt and other holy sites, but also with programming in English targeting second generation Copts everywhere. ... TV2MORO is an ethnic programming IPTV distribution network focusing on Diaspora communities in North America, Australia and Europe. Using the latest technology and Internet innovations, TV2MORO promises to re shape the way ethnic and specialty channels are distributed worldwide." See also www.tv2moro.com.

Will the CNNI pop-up café pop up in front of Broadcasting House?

Posted: 13 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Cream, 12 May 2010, Gemma Taylor: "CNN International is to open a pop-up café in London this summer for hungry pedestrians looking for their daily news fix. The CNN News Café will also serve as a live location for interviews and live broadcasts while punters can create and submit their own news stories via CNN's interactive user-generated iReport booth. ... 'This experiential approach has been developed into an exciting brand sponsorship opportunity as well, and as such, we are seeking an exclusive sponsor that will benefit from some highly novel brand activation on the ground,' said [CNN marketing director Mark] Haviland." -- "Brand activation"! Gosh, I wish I could speak corporate.
   Digital Spy, 11 May 2010, Daniel Kilkelly: "CNN International has cancelled its regular news coverage in order to provide updates on the UK's shift in power."

Defendants in case related to murder of RFA GC opt for bench trial.

Posted: 13 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 12 May 2010, Keith L. Alexander: "It is possible that no one will ever be charged with the murder of Washington lawyer Robert Wone. Federal prosecutors realize that, barring a last-minute confession or the discovery of new evidence, Wone's Aug. 2, 2006, slaying will probably go unsolved. ... The night he was killed, Wone stayed late at Radio Free Asia, where he was general counsel, to meet his night-shift colleagues. He had arranged to sleep over at the six-bedroom 19th-century townhouse owned by Price and Zaborsky [two of three charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence] rather than make a late-night Metro trip back to the Oakton home he shared with his wife, Kathy."
   Washington Post, 12 May 2010: "In a surprise move, the three men charged with conspiring to cover up the fatal stabbing of Washington lawyer Robert Wone told a D.C. Superior Court judge Wednesday that they wanted to waive their right to a jury trial and instead have the judge hear their case." See also Who Murdered Robert Wone blog and twitter.com/wonetrial. See previous post about same subject.

In "first-ever joint venture ... Disney’s beloved characters" will speak Korean.

Posted: 12 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Walt Disney press release, 12 May 2010: "The Walt Disney Company – through its subsidiary Disney Channel International (DCI) – and SK Telecom, a leading telecommunications service provider in Korea, today announced the intent to form a joint venture to launch Korean-language Disney-branded channels in South Korea. This will be the first-ever joint venture by The Walt Disney Company to launch Disney Channels anywhere in the world. As a part of the proposed agreement, the joint venture company plans to launch Korean-language versions of Disney Channel and Playhouse Disney Channel targeted at kids and families in South Korea. These two channels will be available in HD multiplex, as well as SD format over cable, direct-to-home and IPTV platforms and related on-demand digital media services in South Korea. Anchored by Disney’s beloved characters and kid and family-friendly content, the channels will air a significant portion of locally produced, Korean-language programming."

DPA: Chinese media slow to report attack on kindergarten in Shaanxi province.

Posted: 12 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 12 May 2010: "Xinhua reported Wednesday's attack in English but not in its main Chinese-language service. The Chinese-language websites of other key state media, such as China News, People's Daily and China Radio International, had still not reported the attack by early evening, suggesting the government had imposed a media blackout."
   Herald Sun (Melbourne), 6 May 2010: "Media mogul Kerry Stokes has pledged greater co-operation between [Australia's] Seven Network and Chinese state media at a meeting in Beijing with China's propaganda chief. Mr Stokes made the promise at a meeting with Liu Yunshan, head of the Chinese Communist Party's publicity department, in Beijing on Tuesday, official newsagency Xinhua reported. Seven spokesman Simon Francis declined to provide more detail on the talks... ."

Tall buildings and cranes interfere with satellite TV reception in the UAE.

Posted: 12 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The National (Abu Dhabi), 10 May 2010, Matt Kwong: "High-rise buildings, and the tall cranes needed to build them, are jamming satellite TV feeds across the Emirates. With the World Cup 2010 broadcasts from South Africa only a month away, pay-TV customers and companies are complaining about weak signals. ... The problem could be a blow to the satellite TV industry, admitted Mike Whittaker, the vice-president of broadcast operations and technology for the Orbit Showtime Network, the biggest TV subscriptions platform in the region. 'Hopefully, we can work around it. If you can’t get us through satellite, hopefully you can get us through cable or IPTV. (internet protocol television).'" -- "Blocking" would have been a better word to use than "jamming," the latter suggesting a signal purposely put on the same frequency. A south-facing (in the northern hemisphere) balcony or access to the roof has always been necessary for satellite dish reception.

Latest shortwave in the news is shortwave as it used to be in Brunei, Uganda, and India.

Posted: 12 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Brunei.fm, 10 May 2010: "It was in 1965 that Radio Brunei could be heard around the country through short wave frequency. It was also able to broadcast to the Asia Pacific region."
   The Observer, 9 May 2010, Moses Serugo: "The ‘90s Ugandan TV series is running yet again for the umpteenth time on UBC TV airing Monday to Wednesday at 11pm. In 'The Kiboga Bride' episode, Dr. Dick Walusimbi (Paul Katende) is adjusting to the quirkiness of the village belle, Nakawunde (Harriet Nalubwama) he got from Kiboga. He is seated at the breakfast table reading the morning paper while listening to the BBC on shortwave. ... Those were pre-FM radio station days in which the BBC was listened to on squeaky Short Wave and not the crisp stereo sound available today."
   Siliconindia, 12 May 2010, Vichoo Shree Nair: "I still remember me and my younger brother tuning English stations and listening to the VOA news and Radio Australia Weekly Top hits."

Karzai spokesman visits RFE/RL Washington office.

Posted: 11 May 2010   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL press release, 10 May 2010: "Ahead of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's arrival in Washington today, his spokesman [Waheed Omer] told reporters at RFE/RL's Washington office this morning to expect a series of 'frank exchanges' between the Afghan president and the White House over the next four days."
   Reuters, 10 May 2010: 'However nice we can be, we will raise issues that we believe that if addressed jointly by Afghanistan and the United States will help us strengthen this partnership,' Omer said at a briefing at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Washington."
   Foreign Policy, The Cable, 10 May 2010, Josh Rogin: "Omar was speaking to an audience at the Washington office of Radio Free Europe - Radio Liberty, which held a session to unveil Freedom House's new report on press freedom. That survey labeled Afghanistan's media environment as 'not free.'"

The Africa Channel brings African content to US homes, now in HD.

Posted: 11 May 2010   Print   Send a link
WorldScreen.com, 11 May 2010: "On August 1, The Africa Channel will be made available in HD in select markets in the U.S. The HD version of the channel will feature original programming that features a variety of entertainment- and information-oriented genres, including film, talk, music, travel, history and comedy. Some of the highlight offerings include African Ancestry, African Literary Giants, Inside Egypt and Conversations with Felicia."
   The Africa Channel website: "The Africa Channel is a showcase for the African continent's most outstanding English language television series, specials, documentaries feature films, music, event specials, biographies, soap operas, current business analysis, cultural and historical programs -- shows that reflect the people of Africa, their incredible stories, their daily lives, their music and art, their successes, celebrations and challenges. Our mission? To open up a daily window into modern African life and, in the process, help demystify Africa for American viewers."

What does BBC World News advertiser-funded programming have in common with Pig and Poultry Marketing?

Posted: 11 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Crain's Manchester Business, 10 May 2010: "Media content company Ten Alps Plc is buying farming publisher Grove House Publishing Ltd for up to £1.64m in cash and shares. Grove House's titles include Farm Business, The Agronomist, Pig and Poultry Marketing and Over the Counter... Ten Alps also announced that its business in Singapore had signed a new TV contract for Asian markets with BBC World News and BBC.com to cover advertiser-funded programming. Ten Alps Asia TV said it would work closely with BBC World News to provide research and creative briefs for advertiser-funded programming following the recent series 'The Projectors' (sponsored by Lexus) and 'The Year Book' (sponsored by Chivas). Paul Gibbs, head of programming for BBC World News said: 'South-East Asia is becoming increasingly important to us. We have a strong audience in the region, and now we want more content produced from there." Farmer Giles, commenting to ibid: "Pig and Poultry Marketing clearly has excellent synergies with making corporate pap TV for the BBC in Asia." See also Ten Alps press release, 10 May 2010.
   Indiantelevision.com, 11 May 2010: "CNN International and Korean Air have signed an exclusive advertising partnership around CNN's new programme, CNNGo, launching to global audiences on 13 May. In a twelve month deal, the South Korean airline will advertise around the monthly travel magazine show that will be aired every Thursday at 2 pm."

Television journalists in Ukraine complain of "systematic censorship."

Posted: 10 May 2010   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL News, 9 May 2010: "Journalists at two Ukrainian television stations say censorship is occurring again at the country's commercial TV stations, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports. Journalists at the STB station's news program 'Vikna' (Windows) claimed in a letter published on May 7 that 'systemic censorship' is taking place. Their open letter came one day after their colleagues from the TSN news service of Channel 1+1 -- one of the most-viewed programs in Ukraine -- claimed the same in a similar statement. Both groups of journalists allege some topics are 'closed' and some reports are edited 'upside down' or banned altogether since the election of Viktor Yanukovych as president earlier this year. ... Hanna Herman, the deputy head of the president's office (and former head of RFE/RL's Kyiv bureau), met with TSN journalists and announced afterwards that she found no evidence of censorship."

Reuters Insider is a new web-based video service that few of us will watch.

Posted: 10 May 2010   Print   Send a link
New York Times, DealBook, 10 May 2010, Andrew Ross Sorkin: "Thomson Reuters is trying to change television. Its new product, Reuters Insider, is a Web-based video service that captures myriad streams of information produced by the company’s reporters and 150 partners. The service, which will begin Tuesday, is something like a You Tube for the financially interested, albeit one that is available only to Reuters subscribers, who pay as much as $2,000 a month. ... Why try to sell advertisers on a broad television network when you can get subscribers — investment banks, analysts, market players — to pay and pay dearly for the information ginned up by 2,800 reporters from 200 bureaus around the world, not to mention lots of other technical business intelligence from a curated group of partners?"

Iranian internet filtering even affects pro-regime sites.

Posted: 10 May 2010   Print   Send a link
PBS Frontline, 9 May 2010, Hamid Farokhnia: "Cyber censorship [in Iran] has been so pervasive and indiscriminate that even the regime's supporters have not been immune. Recently, several well-known hardline weblogs were caught in the censor's dragnet, prompting righteous howls of indignation from contributors and readers alike. In a bizarre twist, Mehdi Sarami, the man nominally in charge of 'Internet filtering,' admits he is largely powerless to ensure that pro-government sites do not continue to run into censorship trouble. On April 9, the far right website Raja News broke the news of how several hardline blogs had been mysteriously blocked by orders from the government. The site's bewildered correspondent interviewed some of the affected bloggers, who seemed equally flummoxed. Omid Hosseini, whose weblog Ahestan was a top winner in the Revolutionary Guards-sponsored extravaganza 'Eight Months of Cyber War' last year, speculated that perhaps his unique style of reporting had incurred the displeasure of the censors. ... A few days after Raja News ran the story of the hardline website blockages, it provided the basis for an expose that appeared on BBC Persian. In a perfectly ironic act of self-censorship, mirroring the tortuousness of Iran's electronic highways, Raja News responded by taking down its own article."

Senator Coburn blocks most recent attempt to confirm six nominees to the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Posted: 09 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 8 May 2010, Chris Casteel: Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) "was the only Republican senator in the chamber Friday morning when some of his Democratic colleagues tried to push through more than 60 Obama nominees for numerous federal departments, including Treasury, Commerce, Justice and State. ... Coburn gave [Senator Claire] McCaskill [D-MO] a copy of a letter he sent late last month to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to place holds on six nominees for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the Voice of America. Coburn also put a copy of the letter into the Congressional Record, making his holds public. Coburn said Friday he had questions about the management of Voice of America and wanted to be able to speak with all of the nominees before allowing their nominations to go forward."
   NationalJournal.com, Hotline On Call, 6 May 2010, Daniel Friedman: "Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has placed holds on more WH nominees, including former George W. Bush press secretary Dana Perino, he said today. Coburn disclosed holds on eight nominees to the Broadcasting Board of Governors including, including Perino and popular author and journalist Walter Isaacson. ... Coburn has said the Board of Governors and subsidiary operations waste money and said he is has concerns about management of the Voice of America, which the BBG oversees."
     Congressional Record, 7 May 2010, S3388, Senator Tom Coburn: "The BBG is in such a mess, I want to make sure I visit with every nominee before I give them a clearance to get on that board, because we are wasting threequarters of a billion dollars there and not doing anything positive for our country as we spend that money." See previous post about same subject.

Director of Radio/TV Martí responds to critical Senate report.

Posted: 09 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Miami Herald, 7 May 2010, Pedro Roig, director of Radio and TV Martí: "I am profoundly disappointed in the errors contained in Sen. John Kerry's Senate Foreign Relations Committee report on Radio and TV Martí broadcast operations. First, the audience issue: The report mentioned that 'less than 2 percent of Cubans listen to Radio Martí, and TV Martí has virtually no viewers at all.' I should note that the General Accounting Office (GAO) report calls into question the validity of that telephone survey since only about 17 percent of Cuban households have telephones and because in Cuba 'they might be fearful of responding to media surveys.' ... On the issue of objectivity, the Senate Committee report noted that less than half of respondents in a 2007 survey of recent arrivals thought Radio and TV Martí broadcasts were 'objective.' The report fails to mention that the same survey stated that ``only 7 percent felt that the newscasts were 'biased.' The same 2007 survey noted ``with regard to the perception of the news broadcast by Radio Martí, 74 percent reported that Radio Martí's news broadcasts were 'excellent' or 'good,' while only a very small percentage (5 percent) rated them 'poor.'"    Update: Cuban American National Foundation, 5 May 2010: "While the report makes several valid points regarding the Office of Cuba Broadcasting’s (OCB) poor performance in recent years, to diffuse the Cuba specific broadcasts within the amalgam of Voice of America (VOA) objectives and bureaucracy would contradict the original purpose of Congress in creating an instrument that would advance the truth and democratic values to the Cuban people. ... It is clear that new leadership at OCB is needed and that the Obama Administration should move expeditiously to replace current management but equally, if not more critical, is the need to reinstate the Presidential Advisory Board to Cuba (PABC). It was the 'freezing' of the activities and oversight responsibilities of the PABC during the Bush Administration that made possible the continuation over a decade of misguided and mismanaged practices at OCB that resulted in a listenership reduction of over 70% to less than 5% of the Cuban audience. ... The Cuban regime has intensified its efforts to censor the Cuban people from outside news and information and has implemented a zero tolerance policy for internal dissent. Now more than ever, the U.S. should redouble its efforts to maximize the tools at our disposal, including Radio and Television Marti, to support the Cuban people in their desire for change." -- The statement refers to advancing "truth and and democratic values" support for "desire for change." What about just broadcasting the news? Such persistent ambiguities of Radio and TV Martí suggest why the present status of the stations is questionable. See previous post about same subject.

Pan-Arab channels: lopsided audience shares, even more lopsided advertising revenues.

Posted: 09 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 8 May 2010, Magda Abu-Fadil: A study by the Dubai Press Club "found that while the top 15 pan-Arab channels claim 64% of audience share, they make up 80% of the nearly $900m pan-Arab advertising revenues. ... 'FTA [free to air] players, such as MBC, are able to secure deals with Hollywood studios to acquire rights for movies that are three to five years old, which are very popular with viewers.' ... The top five FTA satellite channels make up 47% of total viewing share, leaving hundreds of other stations with extremely low viewing shares, thereby bringing their commercial viability into question, it said. Another key factor related to audience fragmentation is that not all channels in the region are run for purely commercial reasons, it explained. 'This puts severe pressure on any channel, which is trying to operate commercially, since competition for content and, therefore, viewers is extremely stiff,' the report said." See also full report (large pdf).

Al Jazeera considers adding Turkish.

Posted: 09 May 2010   Print   Send a link
"Given the importance of Turkey for the Arab world, Al-Jazeera is giving serious thought to beginning Turkish-language broadcasts, Qatari Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage Hamad Bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari has said. Al-Kawari’s remarks came during a visit by a group of Turkish journalists and businesspeople to Doha. He said Qatar’s internationally reputed Al-Jazeera was giving serious thought to starting up a channel to broadcast in Turkish, noting the success of Al-Jazeera English, which reaches 140 million people worldwide." -- An Al Jazeera for one country? Or would it be more of a pan-Turkic effort?

After four years, Al Jazeera English gets major cable distribution in Canada (updated).

Posted: 09 May 2010   Print   Send a link
CBC News, 4 May 2010: "Al Jazeera English, the 24-hour English-language news service based in the Middle East, began broadcasting in Canada Tuesday. Bell TV, Rogers and Vidéotron, three of Canada's largest cable providers, are carrying the digital channel, which got approval from the federal regulator last November. It has taken four years from the creation of the network for it to clear all the hurdles to begin broadcasting in Canada. AJE has more than 1,000 employees worldwide, including many Canadians. Tony Burman, former editor in chief of CBC News, is the current managing director of Al Jazeera English. He said the network aims to bring independent, impartial news to a global audience. ... AJE plans to open a Toronto bureau in June to begin its coverage of Canadian news."
   Digital Journal, 4 May 2010, press release via: "[I]n today's edition of The Riz Khan Show - which is broadcast at 12:30pm, 5:30pm and 10:30pm ET - Canada's involvement in Afghanistan will be debated by a panel including Bob Rae, a prominent member of the opposition Liberal Party."
   The Canadian Press, 5 May 2010: "Al Jazeera English is distinct from Al Jazeera Arabic, which failed in its bid to earn a Canadian broadcast licence in 2003 due to strong opposition over of a perceived anti-Israeli bias."
   Toronto Star, 4 May 2010, Bruce DeMara: "The sudden availability of the English-language Al Jazeera network on its own schedule Tuesday took some Rogers sales bookers by surprise. After informing a Star reporter that the network didn’t exist and that channel 176 was not listed in the cable company’s lineup, a Rogers phone representative facilitated a hookup after about 20 minutes."
   Update: Toronto Life, 6 May 2010, John Michael McGrath: "AJE’s presence on Canadian TV contrasts starkly with the American situation, where AJE barely exists and is entirely unavailable on the country’s largest cable provider, Comcast. The reason may have to do with Al Jazeera’s reputation for covering events from a slightly less Yankee-friendly angle, or as the Financial Post put it in its hallmark bland fashion, 'Al Jazeera has faced intense criticism in the past for its editorial choices and coverage of events in [the Middle East].' Intense criticism is the least of it—Al Jazeera offices were hit by U.S. bombs and missiles in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In Canada, of course, we take a more laid-back position. Hell, Fox News called our soldiers a bunch of sissies, and it’s still on the air."

Press TV wins "Human Rights award" at Al Jazeera documentary festival.

Posted: 09 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Press TV, 8 May 2010: "A Press TV documentary production has received the Human Rights award of the 6th edition of the Aljazeera International Documentary Film Festival. Aliya Battalion directed by Rashed Radwan competed with 198 documentaries from 39 countries, which participated in the 2010 edition of the festival held on the theme of 'Freedom and Human Rights.' Radwan's 60-minute film is about a small sniper army of former Soviet soldiers, who are used by Israel to terrorize Palestinian civilians in West Bank cities and villages." -- I assume the festival, which began on 19 April, is over by now. The website festival.aljazeera.net has no results or recent news. See previous post about same subject.
   Ahlul Bayt News Agency, 5 May 2010: "Al-Jazeera center challenged the fear of the recent Iranian maneuvers spread by some media, by publishing an online poll on its Website, which asks, 'Do you see the Iranian military maneuvers in the Gulf as serving the interests of the region?' ... More than 64% of the participants said that the Iranian maneuvers serve the interests in the region, regardless of the wide range of Western media propaganda against those maneuvers. ... Lately, mass media in the region, particularly Al-Arabiya channel, had broadcasted acts of malice, coinciding with the Iranian maneuver 'The Great Prophet' (May Allah blesses him and his household). It also launched a psychological war against Iran, claiming that Iran is aiming, through its maneuvers, at carrying out an adventure and controlling the region.'"

Nigerian author: "We no longer have to rely on the BBC World Service to tell us what is happening in our own countries."

Posted: 09 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Globe and Mail, 7 May 2010, Ken Wiwa: "[T]he Internet has opened up Africa to Africans and the world. We no longer have to rely on the BBC World Service to tell us what is happening in our own countries. ... Social media have enabled us to bypass the limitations and biases of traditional media. Here in Nigeria, websites and blogs such as SaharaReporters.com routinely publish stories no newspaper would have printed in the past. As they are everywhere else, the old orders are struggling to contain the shifting shape of this irreverent new movement. Local distribution networks and channels are piping locally produced music and film into fertile and impressionable minds, through cable providers such as DSTV and stations such as Channel O and Africa Magic, where African actors and musicians are showcased side by side with cultural producers from the West."
   Rapid TV News, 6 May 2010, Chris Forrester: "TopTV, South Africa’s new DTH broadcaster, has reportedly sold out of decoders within 6 hours of going live. Call centre staff have been doubled. Local press reports say that 50,000 decoders went during the weekend. Another 30,000 are being hurried into stores now and a further 120,000 will arrive 'next month'. Call volume to authorise the boxes were running at 1500 calls-per-hour. However, this early demand, while good news for On Digital Media, still has some way to go to catch up incumbent DStv which has almost 2.7m subscribers in place." See previous post about same subject.

China Radio International opens cyber vote for Top Chinese Tourist Cities.

Posted: 09 May 2010   Print   Send a link
China Radio International, 7 May 2010: "CRI Online, the multilanguage website of China Radio International, has launched a cyber-selection event entitled '2010 Chinese Cities Ranking -- Top Chinese Tourist Cities'. ... Based on expert opinions and international practices, the event organizer has set its selection criteria as follows: cities with unique and fascinating sceneries, a safe and harmonious living environment, friendly and open citizens and well-established tourist facilities. According to the selection procedures, 50 candidate cities will be chosen from April 12 to June 1 based on recommendations made by cities themselves and internet users. From June 1 to August 27, 20 cities with the highest numbers of cyber-votes will be selected and move to the final round. From September 9 to November 26, 10 cities will finally be selected as 'Top Chinese Tourist Cities' through final decisions made by an expert panel based on the number of votes cast by internet users."

France 24 iPad app highly rated but unpopular.

Posted: 09 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Poynter Online, 7 May 2010, Damon Kiesow: "Alan Mutter reviewed the reviews of the first media iPad apps and finds that consumers are generally not impressed by the current batch of offerings. ... Mutter notes that the only app to receive an average four-star rating is France 24, which offers content in both English and French. While interesting, Mutter's analysis runs into a few snags. First, France 24 has only received 62 total ratings, barely enough to be representative of user feedback. In comparison, USA Today has 1,242 ratings, and The Wall Street Journal received 7,241 for the original version of its app."

"The world will tune in to Voice of Russia 100 years from now."

Posted: 08 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, 6 May 2010: "The world will tune in to the Voice of Russia even in a 100 years from now, the Chairman of the Voice of Russia radio broadcasting company Andrei Bystritsky is absolutely certain on that score. As we can see today, multi-media technologies have already brought radio broadcasting into a new orbit, which has made it possible to broaden the borders and to draw the continents closer. Thanks to the Internet and digital technologies, the audiences in many countries can not only listen to our programmes and see video clips, but also have a good chance to carry out a permanent dialogue with the Voice of Russia radio, Andrei Bystritsky said in an interview on the occasion of Radio Day, which is marked in Russia on May 7th. ... Despite cut-throat rivalry, the Voice of Russia, which broadcasts to foreign countries, continues to go from strength to strength and to win new listeners, the Chairman of the Voice of Russia radio Andrei Bystritsky said." -- Voice of Russia has a good English schedule page, showing frequencies, program schedule, and descriptions of programs, all on one page. VOR, transmitting in 40 languages, evolved from the old Radio Moscow.

Don't let Russia Today make you miss the VE Day Parade on Russia Today.

Posted: 08 May 2010   Print   Send a link
RT (Russia Today), 9 May 2010: "On May 9, Moscow will host the 65th anniversary Victory Day parade. For the first time in decades, foreign troops are participating in it. Don’t miss the great event! RT is broadcasting the Moscow Victory Parade live starting 10am local time (7am GMT, 8am London time, 2am NY time, 11pm LA time). Switch to RT channel or log on to RT website for full coverage in English. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance!"
    But during the summer, Moscow is GMT (a.k.a. UTC) plus four hours, so that would be 0600 GMT, 7 am in London. The NY and LA times are correct, though. You can also watch the parade on Voice of Russia radio -- well, on their website. The VOR article publicizing this provides no time. A banner at the top of the page says only "10:00 a.m. in Moscow." If international broadcasters are to be international, they must use UTC/GMT, and use it correctly.

Digital Radio Mondiale redesigns its website.

Posted: 08 May 2010   Print   Send a link
DRM Consortium press release, 4 May 2010: "Information about Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) will now be easier to find and more accessible with the launching of the DRM Consortium's new user-friendly and easy-to-navigate website. www.drm.org is online with new added information such as 'What Is DRM Digital Radio?' 'What does it Sound Like?' and 'How Does it Work?' and a whole host of new features which make it the one stop solution for all DRM related information." -- The home page shows alternating photos of people listening to radios, none of which can receive DRM.
   DRM is now being tested in São Paulo on 26.04 MHz. This is intended for local reception, but members of the drmna Yahoo! discussion group are reporting occasional reception in the United States and Europe.

A schedule that might convince even the most dedicated shortwave listener to listen to the internet stream.

Posted: 08 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Slovakia International schedule page: "During the period between the 1st of May and the 30th of September 2010 the following changes will be implemented in our broadcasting schedule. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday broadcasting will only take place on one frequency. Highlighted frequencies will be broadcast during even weeks. Frequencies which are not highlighted will be broadcast during odd weeks. There will be no changes to broadcasts during Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday."
   Radio Netherlands Media Network, 1 May 2010, Andy Sennitt: "[I]t should be noted that RSI dropped shortwave completely for a few months in 2006 due to budget cuts."

BBC website writer overcome by confusion about the BBC world services' brands.

Posted: 08 May 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 5 May 2010: "BBC Correspondent Malcolm Brabant was overcome by tear gas while reporting on the clashes between demonstrators and police in Athens. ... Our correspondent, with help from a tear gas mask, was able to resume his report, and described the chaotic scenes on the streets of Athens to BBC World." -- That should be BBC World News, formerly known as, and frequently still referred to, even occasionally by the BBC itself, as BBC World.
   The Nation (Bangkok), 6 May 2010, letter from Sumet Jumsai: "The BBC World news on May 4 again referred to the illegitimacy of the government, deliberately ignoring that this is the third administration elected in Parliament since the coup. Whether the local BBC representative is dumb or not, something fishy is going on." Ibid, letter from Richard Bowler: "UDD secretary-general Nattawut says it is unfair that the government has the freedom to distort information, while the red shirts have nothing. The red shirts have the BBC." -- Except that the BBC no longer broadcasts in Thai.

BBCMundo.com: The other international broadcasters located in Miami.

Posted: 08 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Portada, 6 May 2010: "BBC Mundo.com -- with 5.2 million users a month-- is the Spanish version of the BBC website. It attracts its highest percentage of visitors from the following countries: Mexico (25%), USA (15%, all Spanish-speakers), and Venezuela (12%). In terms of content, the site follows the BBC’s editorial balance of international news, with a special focus on Latin America and the areas of science and technology. ... The BBC’s Spanish service employs a total of about 50 journalists which are mostly employed in Miami... ."

BBC Buzz organizes a photography exhibit in Dhaka.

Posted: 08 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The Daily Star (Dhaka), 4 May 2010: "A group photography exhibition titled 'Capturing Moments, Framing Lives' is being held at Drik Gallery, Dhanmondi, Dhaka. The exhibition, jointly organised by the TV show 'BBC Buzz' and Drik Gallery, started on April 30 and features 15 selected photographs on five different themes. ... Inauguration of the exhibition was marked by speeches from director of Drik Gallery Shahidul Alam, artist Mustafa Monwar and BBC World Service Trust Bangladesh Country Director Allan Freedman. 'BBC Buzz' is part of English in Action, an initiative to raise the language skills of 25 million people in Bangladesh by 2017, funded by UKaid from the Department for International Development." --"BBC Buzz" is yet another riff on the BBC brand, adding to its international recognition. BBC World Service Trust is also helping organize a debate of moyoral candidates in Chittagong. The Daily Star, 4 May 2010.

From the Heritage Foundation: more uncertainty of the concept of international broadcasting.

Posted: 07 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Heritage Foundation, The Foundry, 4 May 2010, Helle Dale: "Well into the second year of the Obama administration, U.S. international broadcasting services remain in a leaderless state of vacuum. ... Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has stated that he is not about to let the Senate move forward with a floor vote on the six that have been voted out of committee unless he has a chance to interview each nominee personally about their views and qualifications, this according to Josh Rogin, writing in Foreign Policy magazine. ... The Senator is on to something. The board members are political appointees. Over the years, some have been well-qualified, some ineffective and some focused very much on their own agenda and business interests. Some have been so hands-on as to function like executives, running afoul of other management structures. ... The nomination of the new BBG provides an excellent opportunity for Congress to exercise oversight of this troubled institution. The BBG has the important mission of presenting the message of the United States to the world, based on the values and principles on which this nation was founded."
   She laments that the BBG does not have new members "[w]ell into the second year of the Obama administration." Then she admits that Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is largely responsible for that, but Sen. Coburn nevertheless garners her praise.
   She hints that "business interests" of some board members have seeped into their work for the BBG. This is a serious charge. It requires specifics and evidence to back it up.
   She criticizes Board members because they "function like executives." Because the International Broadcasting Act of 1994 erroneously omitted a CEO to oversee all of USIB, the Board must act as a collective CEO. Among other things, they determine which languages USIB should keep, drop, or add. They specify how much budget should be spent on each available technology. They have to keep order among the entities, who often compete among themselves like a sackful of civets. I would therefore hope the Board members "function like executives."
   Congress can exercise oversight of the Board, but the Board, not Congress, should exercise oversight of US international broadcasting. That's the idea of the firewall. The BBG's purpose is to ensure that USIB is presenting accurate, balanced, objective news rather than "presenting the message." Audiences abroad tune in because their domestic media are "presenting the message" of their respective governments, rather than presenting the straight news the audiences would prefer to hear.
See previous post about same subject.
   USC Center on Public Diplomacy blog, 28 Sept 2009, Kim Andrew Elliott: "It is an unavoidable reality of Washington that memberships on federal commissions and boards will generally be political in nature. But, in the BBG, the political connections have usually been accompanied by media experience. The ideal BBG member would be a grizzled journalist with overseas experience, especially in a place where he/she has witnessed the role of international broadcasting in information-deprived nations." -- The incoming board is not altogether ideal, but I assume they are quick learners. It is time to seat them so they can get about their important work.

He yearns for the days when Arabic was broadcast by VOA and pop music was sung by Pat Boone.

Posted: 07 May 2010   Print   Send a link
National Strategy Forum Review, Spring 2010, Robert R. Reilly (former VOA director): "Instead of using public diplomacy and its powerful broadcasting tools, like the Voice of America (VOA), to counter the impression of America that pop culture creates, the United States has chosen to reinforce this impression by officially embracing it. Thus, in 2003, the Broadcasting Board of Governors shut down the 12 hours of daily programs in VOA’s Arabic service to the Middle East and substituted Radio Sawa, which concentrates on pop music, to include Jay Lo, Eminem, and Brittney Spears. How do we hope to be taken seriously when this is seen as our response to 9/11?" -- Whatever we may think of the artistry of Jay Lo, Eminem, and Brittney Spears, surveys shows that Radio Sawa has been successful in attracting audiences in numbers the old VOA Arabic Service could only dream about. These large audiences are present for Radio Sawa newscasts that, if relatively brief, are probably more balanced than Arab audiences would get from domestic stations. Longer form news is transmitted by Alhurra television (not mentioned by Mr. Reilly). Television is now the Arabs' preferred news medium.

VOA Russian LiveJournal page victim of cheeky hacker attack.

Posted: 07 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Blogger News Network, 6 May 2010, Ted Lipien: Broadcasting Board of Governors executives "ignored warnings from Free Media Online and other media freedom advocates which pointed out that LiveJournal, which was purchased by a Russian company, is highly vulnerable to attacks by hackers and can be easily control[l]ed by the Russian security services. As a result of the BBG decision to terminate most VOA Russian radio and TV broadcasts, its audience reach in Russia has been drastically reduced." -- Ted is reporting on the hacking, on 2 May, of the VOA Russian LiveJournal page, in which a lady strikes an unfortunate (depending on your point of view) pose. (By the way, I tried to report this story a few days ago, when it first appeared at Ted's freemediaonline.org, but Google warned me that the site was infected with malware.) Many websites are occasionally hacked, but they are usually unhacked within a few hours. With 1,570,991 LiveJournal users in Russia, VOA Russian probably would want to risk -- while bolstering defenses against -- an occasional hack attack. VOA Russian could resume radio and television, but distribution would have to be via shortwave, internet, and satellite, which are not presently popular ways to consume those media in Russia. On the other hand, the mere existence of a website does not guarantee success. It must be publicized and advertised through non-internet media.

Bullet points of advice for VOA broadcasts to Ethiopia.

Posted: 07 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Nazret.com, 4 May 2010, Hindessa Abdul: "•VOA cannot continue depending on traditional means of broadcasting. •VOA can also expect more sophisticated ways of jamming and filtering from Ethiopia, in large part thanks to the Chinese assistance. Chinese have long become champions of web filtering. •On the positive note though, the regime in Ethiopian cannot continue blocking access to news media. It may create temporary problems like what we are experiencing now. But it will not have the financial and technical abilities to hold on to this kind of behavior for long time." -- Blocking websites is not especially difficult or expensive. This forces the use of proxy sites and anti-censorship software, but most internet users are not familiar with these methods. On the other hand, as reported in a previous post, "traditional" shortwave finally overcame Ethiopian jamming by adding transmitters.

Senior fellow recommends "funding surge" for VOA and RFA broadcasts to Burma.

Posted: 07 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The Daily Caller, 3 May 2010, Kelley Currie: "Tougher rhetoric [towards the Burmese military regime] should be supplemented with a dramatic surge in financial support for key democracy promotion programming. This funding surge should include a large increase for the National Endowment for Democracy, the Burmese services of the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, the Democratic Voice of Burma, and other organizations with a proven track record of effective support for Burma’s democratic forces." -- VOA and RFA do not directly promote democracy. They broadcast news. A well informed citizenry is necessary for democracy. Hence the connection between the work of VOA and RFA and democracy. As for the "funding surge," I would prefer a surge in US government efficiency. That could be implemented by merging RFA and VOA. By bringing together the talent and resources of the two organizations, they would fritter less energy competing with each other and more energy competing with the expanding number of media outlets inside Burma.

GlobeCast will help NHK World with "distribution and revenue opportunities" in Asia.

Posted: 07 May 2010   Print   Send a link
GlobeCast press release, 4 May 2010: "Japan International Broadcasting Inc., NHK’s channel distribution arm, has entered into an agreement with GlobeCast’s Content Aggregation and Distribution division for consultancy services. GlobeCast has been appointed by JIB as its agent to assist in the distribution of NHK World TV (in both SD and HD), and NHK World Premium in the Asian territory. ... In addition, GlobeCast will research distribution and revenue opportunities for the channels throughout the territory and at JIB’s request, will enable connections with potential targeted DTH/Cable/IPTV carriers and hotels in the specified country."

VOA launches Digital Frontiers web project.

Posted: 06 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Digital Frontiers is a new VOA web section, with video introduction by VOA director Dan Austin, that deals with things digital, cyber, virtual, mobile, etc., including the censorship and efforts to overcome the censorship of digital content. The hard launch is today, 6 May, but as of this typing there still is no link to the site from the voanews.com home page. The short URL is www.voanews.com/digitalfrontiers.
   VOA press release, 5 May 2010: "VOA Director Danforth Austin says, 'We hope to make Digital Frontiers a global resource for those interested in online freedom and to expand this online project into broadcasts, seminars and other outreach.' 'Wherever you live, you have something to teach the world,' Austin says, and 'with ‘Digital Frontiers’ we'll tell your story, and share it with the world.'"

Report: Worldspace still geosynchronous, and still broadcasting.

Posted: 06 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio, 5 May 2010, Mark Krieger: "WorldSpace's DIP [debtor in possession] has publicly threatened to decommission both AfriStar and AsiaStar by pushing them into higher orbit, effectively ending service by the aging birds. A subsequent attempt by Liberty to persuade the bankruptcy judge in the case to prevent the WorldSpace DIP from decommissioning the satellites failed, but the latest move came when Liberty filed with the FCC to terminate its prior application to take control of the satellite licenses. The Commission's International Bureau accepted that filing on April 8. In the month since, neither party has issued any public statement. Reports from owners of operational WorldSpace receivers indicate that as recently as last week AfriStar was still relaying some program channels, with no indication given that decommissioning is imminent." See previous post about same subject.

Report: RFE/RL removes report about Armenian genocide after protests.

Posted: 06 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The Armenian Reporter, 3 May 2010: "On April 22, 10 p.m., Moscow time, Russian Service of the Prague-based Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) aired an extensive report by its Istanbul correspondent, 'Why so many historians in Turkey study the issue of Armenian Genocide'. The broadcast presented only Turkish views that deny the notion, scope and character of genocide to Armenian national tragedy, the Prague-based Caucasus and Eastern Europe Information Center (www.orer.cz) reported in its April 29 press release. ... Only April 26, under the avalanche of indignant messages from the audience, the transcript of Istanbul feed, together with listeners' letters, was removed from RFE/RL Internet site. RFE/RL offered no further comment on the controversial report or its decision to pull it."
   AZG Daily, 29 Apr 2010, Hrant Darbinian: "[I]f one is to judge by tone and content of the listeners’ reaction to RFE/RL 'looking from Turkey' broadcast on Armenian genocide, hypocritical and inept bureaucracy in Prague and Washington keeps laboring on further destruction of RFE/RL reputation and integrity."
   RFE/RL News, 24 Apr 2010: "Armenia today marked the 95th anniversary of the mass killing of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey, days after a landmark reconciliation deal between Armenia and Turkey collapsed."

CPJ protests IDF arrest of Al Jazeera journalists covering West Bank rally.

Posted: 05 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Committee to Protect Journalists, 3 May 2010: "The Israeli military obstructed an Al-Jazeera crew trying to cover a rally in the village of Bil’in west of Ramallah on Friday, according to news reports and interviews. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns these actions and calls on Israeli authorities to end the harassment of journalists in the West Bank. Israel Defense Forces arrested Al-Jazeera cameraman Majdi Bannoura and assistant Nader Abu Zer when they arrived in Bil’in to cover a weekly protest against the separation barrier being erected there by Israel, according to local news reports. ... 'We are concerned that Al-Jazeera appears to have been singled out and prevented from filming in the West Bank,' said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. 'The Israeli army should clarify why some crews were allowed into Bil’in, which it had declared a close military area, while Al-Jazeera’s crew was detained when they sought to enter the village.'"

Senate Democrats criticize Radio/TV Martí, recommend that it be integrated with VOA.

Posted: 05 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 4 May 2010, Karen DeYoung: "U.S. government television and radio broadcasts to Cuba have failed to make 'any discernible inroads into Cuban society or to influence the Cuban government,' the majority staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in a report released Monday. ... The principal disagreement is over how many Cubans who can receive the programming choose to do so. ... The Senate panel's report echoed previous criticisms that the broadcasts do not meet journalistic standards of the Voice of America, its sister organization under the BBG, and proposed that its headquarters be moved from Miami to join the VOA in Washington."
   Miami Herald, 4 May 2010, Juan O. Tamayo: "The report, written by the committee's majority staff, recommended that the stations and their parent, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), be moved from Miami to Washington and their operations be 'subordinated' to Voice of America, the worldwide U.S. government broadcaster to 'ensure that programming is up to VOA standards.' The stations also should focus on 'quality programming,' it added, to better compete with what it described as recent improvements in Cuban government programming that include shows such as Grey's Anatomy, Friends and The Sopranos. ... [T]he Martí stations' supporters immediately attacked the document. 'John Kerry and his staff are out to kill OCB. They have always tried to kill it and they continue to try to kill it. They lack all credibility on this issue,' said Republican Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Miami."
   AFP, 1 May 2010: "OCB must also 'clean up its operation' by implementing editorial standards and drawing better on-air staff and managers, and 'spend less money on measuring audience size and focus more on quality programming.'"
   Foreign Policy, The Cable, 3 Apr 2010, Josh Rogin: "Both stations run unsubstantiated reports as if they were real news, use offensive and incendiary language in broadcasts, and have an audience of less than 2 percent of Cubans overall, mostly due to successful jamming by the Cuban government, according to the committee. The report also highlights allegations of nepotism and cronyism at the OCB. For example, the director of Voice of America's Latin American service is a nephew of the OCB director and the former director of TV Marti's programming pleaded guilty in 2007 to receiving more than $112,000 in kickbacks from an OCB vendor."
   Senator Russell Feingold press release, 4 May 2010: "'This report lays out Radio and TV Martí’s history of problems, failure to live up to journalistic standards and outright ineffectiveness,' Feingold said. 'The report is an indictment of the program’s wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars. Rather than trying to rehabilitate this toxic brand, we should scrap Radio and TV Martí.'"
   Inter Press Service, 4 May 2010, Jim Lobe: "Wayne Smith, the former head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana in the late 1970s until 1981 and a critic of Radio Marti since its birth, said the Obama administration should have "taken TV Marti off the air within weeks" of his inauguration and then moved Radio Marti back to VOA. He recalled a time before Radio Marti when 'we would go to conferences with Cuban officials on the bus, and everyone was listening to VOA. But once they took VOA off the air, that was the end.' 'Radio and TV Marti have been a fiasco from the beginning, because it's propaganda. VOA was very careful; they had their point of view, but they were careful to have sources and be balanced. That's not true of the (OCB). They just give their point of view, and their point of view is that of right-wing Cuban exiles.'"
   Radio Havana Cuba, 4 May 2010: "Radio and TV Martí, financed media by the U.S. government for subversion in Cuba, 'must undergo a huge reform to ensure its survival', estimated a U.S. congressional report released Monday."
   Washington Post, 5 May 2010, Al Kamen: "[A]bout 30 percent of Cubans polled said they watched CNN en Español on Cuban television during the past week, the report notes. If they have DirecTV, they can get Univision and ESPN and the like. All of which raises the question why a government broadcast operation, even if strongly supported by the exile community, is needed when the private sector appears to be doing the job quite well. Well, because they don't have Fox, that's why."
   When Radio Martí went on the air in 1985, its studios were located in Washington, and its ID included "un servicio de la Voz de los Estados Unidos de América," i.e., a service of VOA. Later, the VOA connection was dropped, and Radio and TV Martí moved to Miami in 1996. The Senate report would have the Martís move back to Washington and resume their affiliation with VOA.
   Also peculiar is the statement "spend less money on measuring audience size and focus more on quality programming." When assessing the performance of international broadcasting, members of Congress almost always first ask how many listener (or viewers) a service has. Will quality of programming now be determined by members of Congress rather than the less-often-measured audience? That would be an effective way to eliminate what's left of the audience, but, never mind, there may be no measurements to document that disappearance.
   Consolidation in US international broadcasting is a good thing, so more combination of effort between Radio/TV Martí and VOA would result in some refreshing efficiency. However, the Radio/TV Martí studio facility in Miami was constructed at considerable expense, so it might not make sense to abandon it immediately. In the meantime, the advantages of covering Latin America from Miami versus Washington can be assessed.

   Stanford Who's Who press release, 5 May 2010 "Christina M. Sans'on has been accepted among the ranks of leading professionals with Stanford Who's Who as a result of her remarkable work in the Broadcasting Industry. As Director of Programs for Radio and Television for the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, as well as throughout her incredible professional career, Christina has consistently displayed the dedication and diligence necessary to be among the best. The Office of Cuba Broadcasting directs the operations of Radio and TV Martí, which broadcast accurate and objective news and information on issues of interest to the people of Cuba. Radio Martí follows Voice of America journalistic standards and guidelines in accordance with the Broadcasting to Cuba Act of 1983." -- Stanford Who's Who is associated neither with Stanford University nor with any other Who's Who. It's a private marketing endeavor.

Nigeria's NN24 is Africa's newest television news channel.

Posted: 04 May 2010   Print   Send a link
AFP, 3 May 2010: "New Nigerian pay television network NN24 will launch 24-hour news coverage from Monday, styling itself on US broadcaster CNN in a first for the West African country, it said. The Lagos-based channel has a partnership deal with CNN International and distribution deal with South African DSTV, chief executive Anthony Dara told The Nation newspaper Sunday."
   AFP, 3 May 2010, Joel Olatunde Agoi: "'We are working on a shoestring budget with the best hands capable because we see ourselves as trying to reinvent the industry in Africa,' he said. Dara said some eight million dollars had been spent on the project. 'Much of the spending is on operational and human costs, while around 2.8 million dollars go on broadcast equipment imported from the US, Britain, India and Japan,' he said. Some 100 journalists, engineers and other supporting staff were on the company's payroll. 'Most of our staff are professionals and are 100 percent Nigerians. But we have Kenneth Tiven, a former vice president of CNN here with us as both technical and financial partner,' he said."
   VOA News, 3 May 2010, Howard Lesser; "Technical enthusiast Oluniyi David Ajao, who recently monitored NN24’s earliest trial telecasts, publishes a personal internet blog on technology and the role it plays in African development. He says the network, though not a dramatic innovation for Africans, shows promise for reaching new viewers. ... 'The news channels that dominate right now are all from outside Africa – BBC, Aljazeera, CNN, Voice of America (VOA) – and all these people have their interests and biases. So, when it’s a Nigerian or an African thing, we expect that the perspective will be different. Maybe it will be more objective,' he reflected. With its overarching world focus, NN24 is also expected to rise above state and federal government-controlled Nigerian broadcasters. But, it will have its hands full of competition from the internet, cell phones, and other modern means of technology which are helping today’s Africans receive their news." See also Olunyi D. Ajao blog, 24 Apr 2010. And nn24.tv.

VOA News Now is gone, replaced by new regional English broadcasts.

Posted: 04 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Readers have noticed new VOA English programming. This is what I know: "VOA News Now" is no more. In its place, VOA has "soft launched" new regional programming for East/South Asia and for the Middle East. The soft launch means it has not been publicized yet (even though anyone can listen to it). The Middle East transmissions do not yet have shortwave frequencies and are thus available only via internet audio stream. The "hard launch" will be 16 May. Here is the schedule (presumably Monday through Friday):
MORNING TO EAST AND SOUTH ASIA, 2200-2400, 0100-0200 UTC
2200 Daybreak Asia
2230 International Edition
2300 Daybreak Asia
2330 International Edition
0100 Daybreak Asia
0130 International Edition
1200 Crossroads Asia
1230 International Edition
1300 Crossroads Asia
1330 International Edition
1400 Crossroads Asia
1430 International Edition
EVENING TO THE MIDDLE EAST, 1700-1800 and 1900-2000 UTC
1700 Middle East Monitor
1730 International Edition
1900 Middle East Monitor
1930 International Edition
There are also a few changes to VOA English programs to Africa.

Russian restrictions affect domestic media and incoming international broadcasts.

Posted: 04 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle, 3 May 2010, Daniel Scheschkewitz: "According to Fritz Pleitgen, a former Moscow correspondent with Germany's ARD public television, the conception of the media as the 'Fourth Estate' and a watchdog over the powerful have no tradition whatsoever in Russia. He made his comments at a symposium held by the Deutsche Welle Media Academy which brought together online journalists, German correspondents in Russia as well as media experts to exchange opinions about the difficulties of reporting freely, and safely, in Russia. ... Russian television journalism, in particular, is strongly controlled by the government. The national Channel 1 and RTR, another national broadcaster, are clearly operating under the Kremlin's control. ... On the radio, the independent station Echo Moscovy is one of the last bastions of press freedom in Russia, since the airwaves have also suffered under presidents Putin and Medvedev. But, the government has made it more difficult to hear outside voices. Radio content produced abroad, such as the Russian-language programs at Deutsche Welle, can only be broadcast in Russia after obtaining a special license, which makes it all the more difficult for partner stations to accept outside content."

"Declaration from DW, RNW, BBC, RFI and VOA on World Press Freedom Day."

Posted: 04 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle press release, 4 May 2010: "As May 3 has officially been designated by the United Nations General Assembly as World Press Freedom Day, the five most influential international broadcasters have taken stock of the hampering of their activities. In the past 12 months Deutsche Welle (DW), Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW), BBC, Radio France Internationale (RFI) and Voice of America (VoA) have all experienced technical challenges like jamming and blocking of radio and television signals. In addition, their foreign correspondents were also physically abused – another price they had to pay for reporting the truth. ... China, for example, continues to block some transmissions and websites from overseas, as it has done for many years. At the same time, it spends more and more money on expanding its own international broadcast operations. ..." -- They are arguably the five most influential international radio broadcasters, but for all media, CNN International and Al Jazeera would be at least as influential.

Controversy continues over Al Jazeera English report on homelessness in Singapore.

Posted: 04 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The Online Citizen (Singapore), 29 Apr 2010, Marcus Cheek, Al Jazeera English executive producer, news, Asia: "I write in response to criticism of Al Jazeera English’s recent story on homelessness in Singapore. Al Jazeera stands by the report which we feel is factually correct. The homeless couple featured in our report were locked out of the system of state support because of bureaucratic regulation." See also TOC, 1 May 2010.
   Today (Singapore), 30 Apr 2010: "[T]he Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) blasted the channel again for saying that the couple's profits made from previous home sales were not relevant to its story. The ministry also suggested Al Jazeera may be guilty of unprofessional conduct, as the woman who was videotaped had now told the MCYS she was not aware her statements were for reporting. She had thought she was speaking to volunteers offering to help her."
   The Online Citizen, 29 Apr 2010, Ng E-Jay: "After stone-walling Al Jazeera, MCYS then discreetly sent officers to raid Changi Beach of the homeless families camping there. Some of them were fined $200 for breaking NParks’ regulations concerning outdoor camping." See the AJE report on YouTube, 5 Apr 2010. See previous post about same subject.

VOA director's open letter to Ethiopian listeners tells of alternatives to jammed shortwave and blocked website.

Posted: 03 May 2010   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 3 May 2010, VOA director Danford W. Austin's "open letter to Ethiopian listeners on World Press Freedom Day": "The Voice of America is deeply concerned about the actions taken in late February to jam the shortwave broadcasts of VOA news in Afaan Oromoo, Amharic, and Tigrigna and to block access to VOA web sites in these languages. ... We are addressing our audience in new ways that did not exist when we began our shortwave radio broadcasts to Ethiopia 29 years ago. We have begun sending e-mails to thousands of people who have written to us in recent months, inviting them to subscribe to our electronic newsletter. ... You can also now hear our daily radio programs on your TV set. I invite you to tune in to our new and very clear audio transmissions at VOA 24 on Arabsat in Ethiopia during our regular shortwave broadcast hours in all three languages." See also VOA press release, 3 May 2010. See previous post about same subject.
   Ethiopian-News, 1 May 2010, Tamiru Tsigie: "Two journalists working for the state-owned Ethiopia Radio and Television Agency (ERTA) were indicted by the prosecutor of the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission on corruption charges for allegedly plotting to sell information which, according to the commission, can potentially mar the image of the country, in violation of their professional obligation. According to informed sources, Haileyesus Worku, producer of Good Governance and Democracy program, and Abdulsemed Mohammed, a reporter of the 'meznagna' program, were accused of preparing a document that damages the country’s standing and selling same to a foreign media outlet, namely Al-Jazeera."

On World Press Freedom Day, statements from Radio Free Asia, RFE/RL, Freedom House, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Posted: 03 May 2010   Print   Send a link
RFA press release, 29 Apr 2010 (pdf): "Today, Radio Free Asia President Libby Liu responded to the findings released in the Freedom House’s 2010 Freedom of the Press survey that classified all six RFA target countries as 'Not Free.' ... 'It is especially important for Radio Free Asia to keep carrying out its mission to provide its listeners with timely, reliable information and news happening within Asian countries that lack free media.'" -- It is especially important that audiences in the six Asian countries get all of their Asian, world, and US news from the convenience of one station, and that they get the best news service possible, both not possible as long as US-government-funded international broadcasting to Asia is split between two stations that overlap and compete with each other.
   The Hollywood Reporter, 30 Apr 2010, Jonathan Landreth: "Shanghai's World Expo 2010 will open Saturday under a small cloud of criticism -- largely ignored by corporate media owners -- over Chinese government restrictions on press freedom echoing the information clampdown in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics."
   Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 3 May 2010: "On World Press Freedom Day, a new report finds that the vast majority of RFE/RL’s 18 million weekly listeners live in countries where freedom of the press is under serious threat. For the eighth consecutive year, the global state of media freedom deteriorated in 2009, according to Freedom House’s annual Freedom of the Press index. None of the 21 countries to which RFE/RL broadcasts is designated as 'free' by the survey, and four are considered the 'worst of the worst': Iran, Uzbekistan, Belarus, and Turkmenistan. Also, 10 countries in RFE/RL’s region are governed by heads of state on the Reporters Without Borders 'Predators of the Press' list."
   Miami Herald, 30 Apr 2010, Christopher Walker, director of studies at Freedom House: "President Hugo Chávez has put the assault on Venezuela's already-beleaguered media into overdrive. The recent arrest of a major television-channel owner, efforts to revoke dozens of radio-station licenses and possible controls on the Internet come amid a longer-term campaign to stifle dissent in this increasingly authoritarian country. Even more disturbing, however, is that Venezuela represents just one part of a broader pattern of systematic media repression exerted by a group of influential, regionally diverse authoritarian regimes. These governments -- including in Russia, Iran and China -- have played a central role in the global setback for freedom of expression."
   Australian Broadcasting Corpoation, The Drum, 3 May 2010, Mark Scott, ABC managing director: "In Fiji, the ABC's Radio Australia has traditionally played a vital role in civic life - an independent voice, relied upon for impartial, accurate reporting and the free expression of a diversity of views. All that began to change at the end of 2006 with the military coup that brought Commodore Bainimarama to power. Last year, Radio Australia's transmitters in Suva and Nadi were abruptly switched off. ... As an Australian cultural institution, financially dependent on, yet clearly editorially independent from government, the ABC has an impact internationally that goes hand in hand with its work as a broadcaster."
   Radio Australia News, 3 May 2010: "Irina Bokova, UNESCO's Director General, has told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program, governments which move away from democracy have a tendency to target the free press and free media. But she says compared to the first Freedom of Expression day, where on around 15 countries had legislation guaranteeing free expression, the current legislation in more than 70 countries, shows that progress is being made."
   Toronto Star, 3 May 2010, Peter Jacobsen and Bob Carty: In Canada, "while it has been a troubling year on many free speech fronts, there are some others deserving our recognition [including the] Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for its licensing of Al Jazeera English, which has expanded the diversity of voices Canadians can access."

US dramas gain audience in Australia from time-shifted viewing.

Posted: 03 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The Hollywood Reporter, 3 May 2010, Pip Bulbeck: "U.S. dramas have been the biggest beneficiaries of time-shifted viewing since ratings provider OzTAM moved to a new measurement system thats has included personal video recorder recording since January, according to ratings figures issued by industry body Free TV Australia this week. ... [I]n the top 20 time-shifted programs with audience increases of between 100,000 and 150,000 weekly viewers have been 'House,' 'The Good Wife,' 'NCIS,' 'Brothers and Sisters,' 'Private Practice,' 'Grey’s Anatomy,' 'Criminal Minds,' 'Bones,' 'Desperate Housewives' and 'Castle.'"

Soap operas do good internationally.

Posted: 03 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Boston Globe, 2 May 2010, Drake Bennett: "To mitigate ethnic tension and fight corruption in Africa, the conflict-resolution organization Search for Common Ground has created a soap opera franchise called 'The Team' about the trials of an ethnically and religiously diverse professional soccer club. Locally produced versions in Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, and Morocco have proved popular — nearly a quarter of Moroccans watch it. The BBC World Service has, since the mid-1990s, broadcast a radio soap opera in Afghanistan called 'New Home, New Life.' A huge hit, the serial narrative about village life introduced Afghan audiences to the concept of the cliffhanger ending — Afghans were originally frustrated that the installments ended right when things were getting most interesting — and is used to deliver practical information about everything from animal husbandry and landmine safety to civics."

Possible 18-25% cut to BBC World Service budget would be "pretty much terminal."

Posted: 02 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The Sunday Times, 2 May 2010, Chris Gourlay: "The BBC World Service is braced for the loss of up to a quarter of its budget. Executives are planning for cuts of 18%-25% after Foreign Office officials indicated its £272m annual budget would be reduced from April next year. A World Service source said the effect of a 25% cut would be 'pretty much terminal'. The broadcaster, which has a weekly audience of 188m, is funded by taxpayers through the Foreign Office to promote British culture and values. BBC sources say services such as BBC Arabic TV and BBC Persian TV are vulnerable because they cost a combined £34m per year. Minority language services are at risk, while the English services are likely to survive."
   First of all, it's not the purpose of BBC World Service "to promote British culture and values."
   I would think that Arabic and Persian would be priorities for Foreign Office funding of World Service. And audiences in those and other target areas are nowadays expecting to get their news via television. That's the problem: television is much more expensive than radio. Perhaps World Service should look to EuroNews, not as an exact template, but for ideas on how the consolidate the visual element, while providing multiple audio tracks.
   And why would the English service survive? The BBCWS 24-hour English radio offering(s) might be a good candidate for scaling back. It could make more use of BBC domestic radio content. It could even use the sound portion of BBC World News (which aspires to be self funding) for a few hours a day.
   This news will result in much discussion and politicking, but I would bet against an actual, eventual cut of 25%.

   New York Times, 1 May 2010, Nazila Fathi: "On the BBC Persian service on Saturday, workers called in during a live program to complain about lack of independent unions that could address their demands, like unemployment and inflation. The official minimum wage is $300 a month, but those who called the BBC program on Saturday said the wage was too low."

China jams Voice of Tibet condolence messages to earthquake victims (updated).

Posted: 02 May 2010   Print   Send a link
AFP, 22 Apr 2010: "The Voice of Tibet (VOT) radio service slammed the Chinese authorities on Thursday for jamming condolence messages from exiled Tibetans over the deadly earthquake in northwest China. The Oslo-based VOT said it had been including messages of support, solidarity and grief since Monday with its shortwave transmissions -- which are regularly jammed -- in both Tibetan and Mandarin. After all broadcasts were blocked for two days, VOT decided to isolate the condolences from its regular Tibetan news and current affairs and send them in a separate daily transmission. 'We informed the Chinese authorities of this and asked them to allow the transmissions, but again on Wednesday these special broadcasts were jammed,' said VOT's editor-in-chief Karmna Yeshi, based in Dharamshala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile in northern India."
Phayul.com, 20 Apr 2010: "Voice of Tibet (VOT), a prominent Tibetan radio news service announced a message line service that will enable listeners to convey their message of 'support and solidarity' to the people of [earthquake stricken] Kyegudo on shortwave radio to Tibet."
Sri Lanka Guardian, 20 Apr 2010, B.Raman: "It is important for international broadcasting stations broadcasting programmes in the Tibetan language, including the external services of All India Radio, to broadcast the prayers of His Holiness to the people of the [quake-hit] area."
   Update: ICT Blog, 30 Apr 2010, Oystein Alme, Voice of Tibet director: "Eight journalists join together around a tiny radio set outside the small studio in Dharamsala, eagerly waiting for the [Voice of Tibet] transmission to start. Hoping, at least for the ‘condolence’ program, it will reach out without interference from China – at least for today. After all today is the ‘national day of mourning’ throughout China, so at least for today… And there it is, with a loud and clear signal. Excited voices can be heard: 'Wow! This they can definitely hear also inside Tibet… maybe this tragedy has made Beijing… – at least for today, and maybe… who knows…' BANG! Powerful audio breaks through, in Chinese, taking center stage on short wave frequency 15.550 mHz, dominating on top of the condolence messages. Although registered internationally for Voice of Tibet’s exclusive use between 7 and 9 pm Tibet time, it is China Radio International’s (CRI) audio now attempting to rule the frequency. Our frequency. Just as they did yesterday, and the day before. And all other days ever since we started daily short wave radio transmissions to Tibet and China way back in 1996. It is called jamming and is part of China’s 'Great Wall of Censorship,' spending the people’s money to make sure they cannot listen."

Xinhua's new English-language television channel begins trial broadcasts.

Posted: 02 May 2010   Print   Send a link
AFP, 30 Apr 2010: "China's state-controlled Xinhua news agency said Friday it would launch a 24-hour global English television service this weekend to be broadcast by satellite and cable systems. The service, due to begin on Saturday, will be produced by the China Network Corporation (CNC), an affiliate of Xinhua, and will make use of the agency's correspondents worldwide, it said. 'CNC will offer an alternative source of information for a global audience and aims to promote peace and development by interpreting the world in a global perspective,' Xinhua president Li Congjun said."
   AP, 30 Apr 2010: "Starting Saturday, China Xinhua News Network Corp. (CNC) will begin trial broadcasts of its English TV service around the clock, including news segments, feature stories, weather updates and special bulletins, the official Xinhua News agency said. The channel is officially set to launch on July 1. The agency did not immediately say what countries would receive the channel."
   Xinhua, 30 Apr 2010: "Viewers can tune into CNC English programs via Asia-Pacific Satellite-6 at 134 degrees east longitude, with parameters set as '6065MHz/3840MHz.' ... Prof. Yu Guoming, of the School of Journalism of Renmin University of China, said although the English-language network had overcome language obstacles in cross-cultural communication, Xinhua should shift its strategy. Most Xinhua's existing overseas clients were media organizations, but the TV network would reach into homes across the world, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. Yu said Xinhua's communication approaches should be adapted to audiences. Citing Al Jazeera's success, he said objective reporting should be a fundamental principle." -- The satellite is Apstar 6, and reception will require a C-band dish. The website is www.xhstv.com, but I can't find a link to an English version of it. Will this new channel complement or compete with the English-language CCTV-9, now apparently known as CCTV News? (See previous post.)
   China Daily, 30 Apr 2010: "Wang Qiu, president of the China National Radio (CNR), the only national radio station with an estimated audience of more than 700 million listeners, attended an inauguration ceremony to launch the station's new logo, which appears as an acronym of CNR's English name presented in striking Chinese red, with its full title in Chinese characters. ... At the ceremony, Wang said the new logo signals CNR's ambition to transform itself from a radio station into a top international broadcasting system." -- I assume the new logo is in the upper left corner of www.cnr.cn. The logo Is domestic broadcaster CNR planning international broadcasts (other than its global distribution via internet)? Or does "top international" mean world class?

New .中国 domain might increase internet penetration in China.

Posted: 02 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Global Times, 30 Apr 2010, Fu Wen: "Internet users around the world will be able to register websites ending with".中国" (China) in their domain names starting in July, which experts believe will enhance the country's Internet penetration rate. ... The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced earlier that the number of Internet users in China surpassed 384 million in 2009, increasing by 80 million over 2008, China Radio International Online reported. At the same time, Internet penetration in China is less than 30 percent, which is far behind some developed countries, such as the US and Japan, where Internet penetration has reached 70 percent."

Footy in Mandarin?

Posted: 02 May 2010   Print   Send a link
ABC News, 30 Apr 2010, Matt Conway: "A Chinese-born banker is hoping to bring his love of Australian Rules football into a language 882 million people can understand. ... Banker Jamie Pi, who commentated last weekend's Melbourne-Brisbane match on a Melbourne radio station in Mandarin, says he wants to bring his love for the game to a new audience. ... Later this year an exhibition match will be played in Shanghai and is expected to have a television audience of 120 million people - possibly the largest AFL audience ever. Mr Pi says he hopes to be the voice heard by that audience and Australian football commentator Gerard Whateley says he has what it takes. 'Jamie's a beauty,' he said. 'I always have the view that a sports call, in any language around the world, is instantly identifiable.'"

Somalia: No one listens to "No One Earns Without Effort" without effort (updated: 80% listen to shortwave).

Posted: 01 May 2010   Print   Send a link
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, 27 Apr 2010: The 10-episode drama "No One Earns Without Effort went on air on IRIN Radio’s Somali service on Monday 26 April 2010. It will air every Monday with repeats on Fridays. IRIN’s Somali radio service broadcasts direct to Somalia every day on shortwave at 1130-1230 local time and is rebroadcast on some local FM stations." The IRIN Radio web page says the Somali broadcast is at 0830-0930 UTC, 1130-1230 Somalia time, on 17680 kHz, from somewhere outside of Somalia. But Glenn Hauser informs us that, as is often the case, the shortwave schedule at a station's website is out of date. The frequency is actually 13685 kHz, via a relay in the UAE.
   Update: UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, 29 Apr 2010: "A new independent audience survey commissioned by IRIN shows that 72 percent of Somali radio listeners in Somalia and the refugee camps in Kenya listen regularly, if not daily, to IRIN Radio’s Somali service. ... The results indicate that IRIN Radio’s listening figures peaked at above 80 percent in the rural areas of Mudug and Galgadug, where people are reliant on shortwave as local FM services do not reach them, and in the refugee camps." Link to pdf of report.
   VOA News, 28 Apr 2010: "The Somali insurgent group al-Shabab has rebuked the chief of VOA's Somali Service and his counterpart at the BBC. Speaking at a Mogadishu mosque last Friday, an al-Shabab official labeled VOA Somali Service chief Abdi Yabarow and BBC Somali Service chief Yusuf Garaad Omar as murtadeen, or one who abandons the Islamic faith." See previous post about same subject.

Saudi Arabia: "An undisclosed number of licenses had been given to established channels from outside Saudi Arabia," whatever that means.

Posted: 01 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Arab News, 1 May 2010, Fatima Sidiya: "The [Saudi] Ministry of Culture and Information has denied reports that there are over 25 satellite channels awaiting licenses to broadcast in the Kingdom. Ministry spokesman Abdul Rahman Al-Hazza said the truth was that who were looking to transmit in the country. 'We give licenses to channels as long as they adhere to our bylaws and requirements,' he said." -- I'm not sure what a license to "broadcast in the Kingdom" means. There is no stopping any channel on Arabsat or Nilesat. Is it a terrestrial license? Or a license for access to cable television? Or permission to sell pay TV subscriptions in the Kingdom?

Monte Carlo Doualiya on FM in the UAE, collaborates with France 24 Arabic in covering the "art of living."

Posted: 01 May 2010   Print   Send a link
The National (Abu Dhabi), 29 Apr 2010, Keach Hagey: "Monte Carlo Doualiya (MCD), the Arabic-language radio station backed by the French government, began broadcasting in the UAE on Thursday on 95.3FM. The move is part of a four-year, €80 million (Dh389.2m) expansion of the 38-year-old radio station, which is trying to reach out to more young people and women through an FM service and mobile phones. The launch also underscores the growing importance the French company’s parent group is placing on reaching out to the Arab world, said Alain de Pouzilhac, the chief executive of the state-owned Audiovisuel Exterieur de la France (AEF), the station’s parent company. ... The journalists contributing to MCD’s programming will come from France 24 and MCD, making the Arabic broadcast a kind of laboratory for a new, collaborative journalism. 'This department is a new model that makes Arabic-language TV and radio journalists work together,' Mr de Pouzilhac said. ... The journalists contributing to MCD’s programming will come from France 24 and MCD, making the Arabic broadcast a kind of laboratory for a new, collaborative journalism. 'This department is a new model that makes Arabic-language TV and radio journalists work together,' Mr de Pouzilhac said. ... Nahida Nakad, the deputy director of news for MCD and France 24’s Arabic Service, said the station aimed to differentiate itself by being informative and entertaining for the broadest possible Arabic-speaking audience. 'News isn’t only politics,' Ms Nakad said.
'It is also supposed to be a mirror of life, in all its facets. That means we talk about politics, but we also talk about the art of living, health and everything else that makes a life.'" -- Monte Carlo Doualiya isa the former Radio Monte Carlo-Middle East.

Deutsche Welle continues its rollout of FM outlets in Bangladesh.

Posted: 01 May 2010   Print   Send a link
bdnews24.com, 30 Apr 2010: "Germany's international broadcaster Deutsche Welle begins the second test phase of its radio service in Bangladesh on May 1. ... DW-RADIO will be broadcasting daily on 102.0 MHz in Khulna, 105.0 MHz in Rajshahi and 105.4 MHz in Rangpur from 8.00am to 8.30am as well as 8.00pm to 8.30pm. ... Deutsche Welle is planning several accompanying marketing campaigns, including a road show that will take place later this year."

Disney-ABC International Television is now Disney Media Distribution Asia Pacific.

Posted: 01 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Indiantelevision.com, 28 Apr 2010: "US media conglomerate Disney has announced that Disney Media Distribution (DMD) Asia Pacific is the new business name for Disney-ABC International Television. The company's name has been changed to recognise changes within the industry. DMD Asia Pacific is the integrated media distribution arm of Disney. It is responsible for the licensing of branded and non-branded content to all platforms including free-to-air, cable and satellite broadcasters, mobile, broadband and VOD platforms. This change is part of a global integration to a common name, identity and purpose for all media distribution teams across The Walt Disney Company." -- I don't know if this was part of the decision, but the name change also eliminates confusion with the other ABC: the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which has, or at least had, an "ABC International" division.
   Media Mughals, 30 Apr 2010: "Amit Malhotra has been elevated to the role of Vice President of Program Distribution for Disney Media Distribution Asia Pacific. With this promotion Malhotra would be in-charge of the program distribution sales team and business in the region."
   C21Media.net, 21 Apr 2010: "DMD senior VP and MD Rob Gilby said: 'The business has changed more in the past decade than it did in all of the 20th century. The lifecycle of the television, perhaps, best reflects the change in our industry. From being at the epicentre of modern living rooms the world over, it has now progressed to being just one of the many devices that consumers prefer to access and view their favourite content on. Consumers are today choosing to access, store and view content on their terms, time, platform and device.'"

What was World Radio Network is now WRN Broadcast, launches "Radio with Pictures."

Posted: 01 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 29 Apr 2010, Julian Clover: "International Broadcast Services company WRN has rebranded as WRN Broadcast. The expanded company that now offers clients an end-to-end solution for ingest, content management, playout, encoding/multiplexing and distribution has added Top Up TV to its client base. ... WRN began life in 1992 as a distributor of international radio content. Its expansion into TV, which includes two channels on the Sky Digital platform and one of the Voice of America channels, includes last year’s purchase of the TSI Broadcast playout facility. “Radio is still very important to us, because it’s our heritage, and apart from anything else it’s still very good business. Enevitably we’ve been drawn further towards video and that has been lead by our clients,” David Treadway, MD, WRN Broadcast told Broadband TV News, adding that TV now represented 60% of the company’s business." See also WRN Broadcast press release, 29 Apr 2010.
   WRN press release, 7 Apr 2010: "International broadcast services company WRN today announced the launch of its Radio with Pictures product, which aims to revolutionise satellite radio broadcasting by allowing satellite and cable radio stations to display visual content on TV screens. Visuals could include live graphics, existing web content or interactive SMS and Twitter feeds. Renowned international broadcaster Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) is the first of WRN's clients to take advantage of the product for its Arabic service, which broadcasts to the Middle East on Arabsat and Nilesat, enabling it to transform the radio programming into a 24-hour TV channel."

WTFCNN.com chides CNN.com, contrasting it to aljazeera.net.

Posted: 01 May 2010   Print   Send a link
wtfcnn.com: Dear CNN, We know you think this is what we want, but it's not. We don't care what random Tweeters think about a news story, how many holograms you have in your Situation Room, or even the latest celebrity gossip. We care about our world. Instead of using your resources to do the journalism that gives us a better understanding of this world -- we get the front page of CNN.com. Why do we have to look enviously at the front page of Al-Jazeera English for a better sampling of important news stories at any given time? If the CNN frontpage is a reflection of consumer demand, are we to believe that their readers demand real journalism? Consider this a gentle nudge from the anonymous Internet, CNN. Comparisons with the BBC, CBC, Deutsche Welle, EuroNews, and other international websites are also offered. But for more serious, more international coverage, one need only click on the World or International links at CNN.com.
   Huffington Post, 1 May 2010, Danny Shea: "Christiane Amanpour signed off from CNN Friday after 27 years with the network. Amanpour will be joining ABC News, where she will anchor its Sunday morning program, 'This Week,' and contribute across the network. The face of CNN's international reporting, Amanpour premiered a daily show on CNN International and a Sunday foreign affairs show on CNN US in September 2009." With link to video of farewell.

Internews still providing Haitians with news they can use.

Posted: 01 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Columbia Journalism Review, 26 Apr 2010, Curtis Brainard: "On January 12, a 7.0 temblor struck near Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. Within three days, Internews, an international media-development outfit with experience in crisis situations, dispatched a six-member team of communications experts to the island nation. ... By January 21, Internews was producing and distributing, via CD, a daily radio program called Enfomasyon Nou Dwe Konnen—Creole for News You Can Use—to eleven local radio stations (the number has since grown to twenty-seven). ... Now that a little more than three months have passed since the earthquake, the team is beginning to assess the technical and infrastructure needs of stations inside and outside Port-au-Prince. It is also providing humanitarian reporting training to local journalists."

DTH satellite bouquets, with international channels, blossoming in Africa.

Posted: 01 May 2010   Print   Send a link
ScreenAfrica.com, 30 Apr 2010: "Prompted by the 29 April launch of South Africa’s second satellite pay-TV service, TopTV, incumbent MultiChoice has introduced a new low price offering on its DStv bouquet, effective 30 April. DStv Lite costs R99 per month and comprises of 25 video channels, 32 radio and 10 DMX music channels. The bouquet includes the following video channels: TCM, MagicWorld, Africa Magic+, Zone Reality, Soweto TV, The Home Channel, SS Blitz, SuperSport Action, Channel O, TBN, Rhema, Islam Channel, BBC World News, CNN International, Al Jazeera, Parliamentary Service, CNBC Africa, Summit TV, Weather 24, Mindset Learn and the four free-to-air channels e.tv and SABC1,2and 3."
   ScreenAfrica, 30 Apr 2010: "On 29 April South Africa’s second only satellite pay-TV service was officially launched in Johannesburg by the Minister of Communications Gen. (Retired) Siphiwe Nyanda. Owned by On Digital Meida, TopTV offers bouquets from R99 to R249 per month, with a total of 52 local and international channels. ... TopTV has secured programming and channels from household names around the world, including Fox, Warner, Disney, CBS and Discovery. Subscribers can look forward to channels like Zee Cinema (Bollywood channel), Discovery Travel & Living, Fox Entertainment, Fine Living Network, Current TV, BET, MGM, Discovery Travel & Living, Fox Entertainment, Showtime, Discovery Science, Silver, Baby TV, Setanta Africa, France24, BBC World, Hi Nolly, Kidsco, Jim Jam, Baby TV, Fuel TV, and Fox FX, to name a few." Complete list of channels at Sowetan, 30 Apr 2010.
Bizcommunity.com, 30 Apr 2010: "With the launch of On Digital Media's TopTV days away, competition in the pay-TV market in South Africa is set to become more intense as it takes on DStv in its largest market. But below the radar there are several regional challengers squaring up to them in key sub-Saharan markets. My TV has enough subscribers in Nigeria to lay claim to being a contender. ... It is currently present in Nigeria (which has 90% of its subscribers), Ghana, Kenya and Zambia. ... Channels include MyTVAfrica (Nollywood, African soaps and Telenovelas) AIT, NTA, Nat Geo Adventure, Entertainment TV, Fox Entertainment, Fine Living Network, Setanta Africa, Eurosport News, Trace Tropical, Baby TV, Al Jazeera and BBC World."

South Africa's international radio station will cover projects of regional economic community.

Posted: 01 May 2010   Print   Send a link
Mmegi (Gaborone), 27 Apr 2010: "The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has partnered with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)'s Channel Africa on media coverage for the various projects the 15-nation economic bloc is promoting under its Investment Promotion Programme. ... The Shortwave broadcast covers south, east, central and west Africa. The Satellite broadcast covers the sub-Saharan region although it can be picked as far as London. The Internet broadcast covers the entire world. The channel broadcasts in six languages, namely, Chinyanja, Silozi, Kiswahili, English, French and Portuguese."